Ross Gay, who teaches creative writing at Indiana University in Bloomington, has a really good essay about racism and identity in the current issue of The Sun Magazine. It's especially worth reading in light of the Trayvon Martin case. Gay grew up in a largely white, working class neighborhood in Philadelphia where he often heard the N-word thrown his way. He became so used to being perceived as a criminal, that it has even affected his shopping habits.
"Cheapness" typically conjures images of people who buy cheap goods at Wal-Mart, instead of the more expensive, higher quality goods that last longer. However, "immigrant cheapness" is more nuanced than that, existing over a continuum that goes from practical stories of sacrificing to get ahead, to just plain silly.