The Mississippi Delta Culture Shock

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In the book The Mississippi Chinese Between White and Black, James W. Loewen wrote about the daily triumphs and struggles the Chinese citizens faced, explained how they overcome these obstacles, and how they evolved and adapted to life in Mississippi. The Chinese people were confronted by many challenges, but they ultimately succeeded by providing Mississippi with unique culture, sojourners, Chinese grocery stores, and retail shops.

In the time around the era when slavery ended in the United States (1865), African Americans were fighting back against caucasian plantation owners. They had fought for their lives, freedom, and their families freedom. Although they were now free, African Americans had no land, and if a person did not have any land in this time they did not have any money.

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Plantation owners hired back the African Americans to work the fields because they were in need of a job and income. The plantation owners would allow the newly freed African Americans to rent their land for housing and share a small part of their fields to grow crops. When these crops were ripened and ready for harvest, they would divide out the harvest with the plantation owners. This is called sharecropping. Sharecropping is a scheme of which the African Americans and poor caucasians would fall into. No matter how hard they worked, the sharecroppers would fall further and further into debt with the plantation owners. This is when the start of the equal rights movement occured. The plantation owners labeled African Americans as troublesome. According to James W. Loewen, author of The Mississippi Chinese, The editor of Vicksburg Times Wrote that Emancipation has spoiled African Americans, and it has carried them away from the fields of agriculture. (page 22)

African Americans were working diligently to start equal rights in America, but it seemed they had to work even harder in the deep south. Racist caucasian sharecroppers refused to be at the same economic level as African Americans, so they searched for employment elsewhere. At this time young Chinese men started migrating over to Mississippi. These Chinese men came to Mississippi at the best time possible. Plantation owners did not want to keep highoring African Americans because they were troublesome and caucasian sharecroppers were looking for new occupations, so the young Chinese men were first choice. These young Chinese men were so desperate in finding a job because they had no money for food or housing. They desperately needed income. The Chinese were also good workers, and they did not complain about how low their income was.

Another major reason for plantation owners highoring young Chinese men instead of all others was actually intended to be punishment for African Americans. Racist caucasians would refuse to higher African Americans because they were flustered by the African Americans gaining rights as United States citizens.

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