CHINESE AMERICAN HISTORY – AMERICAN BIGOTRY AND RACISM

Writing to me is therapeutic.  I do it mainly for self reflection.  I don’t think I am a good writer so I don’t publish my writings.

I spend this weekend reflecting on what’s going on in OUR country.   

In my ancestry search about my grandpa, I learnt about the history of my ancestors in this country which included countless laws and ordinances passed targeted solely at them.  Chinese immigrants had to deal with the threat of armed attackers, they were also harassed by these punitive laws and regulations, targeted just at them.

America’s TRUE history includes Chinese American history but much of it is not talked about or taught in school. 

So I started gathering a list of these laws and ordinances directed ONLY to my people as well as murders and massacres targeting Chinese. 

This is not a comprehensive list. I tried my best to be accurate and listing events in chronicle order:

  • Foreign Miners’ Tax A (1850) – required all non-native born workers to pay the exorbitant rate of $20 per month for the right to mine; repealed in 1981 by new Governor.
  • Foreign Miners’ License Tax (1852) – a new tax was introduced in 1852 under a new Governor – $3 per month for the right to mine (and rised gradually over the next few years).
  • The Columbia District Mining Regulation (1852) – prohibited Asians from mining .
  • The Bond Act (1852) – required all Chinese post a $500 bond upon arriving in the US.
  • Foreign Miners’ License Tax (1853) – fee raised to $4 per month.
  • People v. Hall (1854) – Chinese could not testify in court against a white man.
  • Foreign Miners’ License Tax (1855) – fee raised to $6 per month.
  • California state legislature enacts a string of laws designed to attach fees inhibiting citizenship.
  • Fishing Tax hindered Chinese access to fishing (1860)
  • California School Law (1860) – banned “Mongolians and Negroes” from public school.
  • California enacts monthly tax of $2.50 on all Chinese 18 and order (1862)
  • California Commutation Tax Act (1862) required shipowners transporting Chinese to the US pay $500 per Chinese, unless they paid a $5 fee to enter.
  • Railroad workers (1865-1869) – lower wages than others, often taking on the most dangerous jobs no one else would like blasting tunnels only to be excluded from the Golden Spike ceremony (1869) even though Chinese played a large part of building the railroad.
  • Chinese excluded from 14th Amendment (1868): any person born in the US was granted full rights of citizenship.
  • The Act to Prevent Kidnapping and Importing of Mongolian, Chinese and Japanese Females for Criminal Purposes prevented females and especially Chinese females from entering the US without a difficult to come by certificate. Chinese women were assumed to be prostitutes (1870)
  • Cubic Air Ordinance (1870) – each adult had to have 500 cu. ft. of living space or face fine, jail or both
  • The Sidewalk Ordinance (1870) – banned the Chinese method of carrying vegetables and carrying laundry on a pole, while in San Francisco
  • Chinese Massacre of 1871 – a mob of ~500 White persons entered Old Chinatown in LA, attacked, bullied, robbed and murdered Chinese residents in cold blood.  The mob lynched 15 Chinese and literally got away with murder.
  • Pigtail Ordinance (1873) – outlawed the wearing of long braids by men, a Chinese custom
  • San Francisco riot of 1877 – 4 deaths and the destruction of more than $100,000 worth of property belonging to the city’s Chinese immigrant population
  • The Chinese must go!” – a slogan from the Workingmen’s Party of California, founded in 1877, which was a white labor union focusing on promoting anti-Chinese legislation.  This was due to the fear of white workers losing their jobs to Chinese laborers who were willing to work for lower wages.
  • Riot at Denver’s Chinatown 1880 – Denver’s Chinatown was attacked by a violent mob. One Chinese was hanged and others brutally beaten and almost all Chinese properties were destroyed.
  • Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 – first, and remains the only law to have been implemented, to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating to the United States.
  • Chinese Head Tax (Canada) (1885) – CAD$50 charged to every immigrant arriving to Canada from China; increased to CAD$100 in 1900 and CAD$500 in 1903 (same price as TWO houses in Montreal at that time); ended when ban on Chinese immigration.
  • Tacoma riot of 1885 – forceful expulsion of the Chinese population; those involved did not face repercussions for their actions.
  • Rock Springs Massacre (1885) – massacre of 40-50 Chinese miners and 79 Chinese camp homes destroyed by fire, by white miners as result of a combination of racial prejudice and general resentment against policies of the Union Pacific.
  • Attack on Squak Valley Chinese Laborers (1885) – Chinese hop pickers murdered in their sleep.
  • Tape v. Hurley, 66 Cal. 473 (1885) – Chinese were prohibited from educating their children in public schools. Mamie Tape sued the all-white Spring Valley School after they refused to admit her.
  • Seattle riot of 1886 – forcible expulsion of all Chinese from the city which resulted in the removal of over 200 Chinese.
  • Hells Canyon Massacre (1887) – 34 Chinese gold miners were ambushed and murdered and robbed of their gold.
  • Scott Act (1888) – law prohibited Chinese laborers abroad or who planned future travels from returning to America.
  • Anti-Miscegenation Act (1889) – prohibited Chinese men from marrying white women.
  • Yick Wo v. Hopkins 118 U.S. 356 (1886) / cancelled by Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) – ordinance passed that persons could not operate a laundry in wooden building without a permit from the Board of Supervisors when 95% of the city’s 320 laundries were operated in wooden buildings and 2/3 of those laundries were owned by Chinese. No were granted to any Chinese owners while virtually all non-Chinese applicants were granted a permit.
  • Geary Act (1892) – law that extended the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 requiring all Chinese residents to carry a “certificate of residence”.  Without it, a Chinese immigrant could be arrested and jailed. Chinese were also not allowed to bear witness in court, and could not receive bail.
  • United States vs. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) – even though born in SF, Wong was denied re-entry to the US after a trip abroad.
  • Pacific Coast race riots (1907) – violence and destruction of property in San Francisco, Bellingham and Vancouver.
  • Angel Island Immigration Station (1910) – created to monitor the flow of Chinese immigrants entering the country after the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which only allowed entrance to merchants, clergy, diplomats, teachers, and students, barring laborers.
  • 6 Chinese Titanic survivors (1912) – Out of the 700 survivors, 6 were Chinese. They were met with suspicion and slander when they arrived in NY and were expelled from the country in less than 24 hours. James Cameron produced their story, one of which involving Fang Lang, according to Cameron, was the inspiration for Jack and Rose’s final scene in his movie . Watch the Trailer. “Six Chinese guys made it off Titanic alive, and 24 hours later were written out of the story. That wasn’t an accident. That was deliberate.” ~Arthur Jones, Director.
  • Alien Land Law (1913) – prohibits aliens ineligible for citizenship from owning agricultural land or possessing long-term leases over it.
  • Immigration Act of 1917 – aimed to restrict immigration by imposing literacy tests on immigrants, creating new categories of inadmissible persons, and barring immigration from the Asia-Pacific zone.
  • Immigration Restriction Act of 1924 – prevented immigration from Asia, set quotas on the number of immigrants.
  • Cable Act (1922) – terminated citizenship for white American women who married an Asian man.
  • Lum v. Rice (1927) – Martha Lum was prohibited from attending a high school in Mississippi solely because she was of Chinese descent.
  • Murder of Vincent Chin (1982) – two white men who thought Chin was Japanese beat him to death; many autoworkers blamed Japanese car manufacturers for the decline of the automotive manufacturing in Detroit.  The killers each received a $3,000 fine and zero prison time. My Afternoon with the Killer of Vincent Chin + #StopAsianHate with Annie Ta‪n
  • Murders of Ming Qu and Ying Wu (2012)
  • Murder of Vichar Ratanapakdee (San Francisco February 2021)
  • Murder of Pak Ho (San Francisco March 2021)
  • Murder of Hyun Jung Grant, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Paul Andre Michels, Soon C. Park, Suncha Kim, Yong A. Yue (Atlanta March 2021)

These are just some of the more famous & well known incidents.   This list goes on.  Hundreds and thousands of incidents go unreported/undocumented.  I see anti-Asian crimes on the news almost on a daily basis.

Anti-Asian racism is nothing new.  It has deep roots in this country.  Ever since Chinese set foot in this country, they have to endure bullies who tried to run them out of town/business, got beaten, tortured, lynched and massacred.  They had to live in a climate of terror and bloodshed.  Perpetrators of these hate crimes largely went unpunished.  We still see that today – many of the recent hate crimes were not charged as hate crimes!

Chinese were blatantly discriminated against with laws which restricted immigration, excluded them from citizenship, land ownership, restricted where they could live, employment, forbidding marriage with White, outlawed their hairstyle and their method of carrying groceries and laundry. 

The above list does not even include any of the survivors of hate crimes in the past 1+ year, which now occur daily in the US and all over the world.

America has always been a racist country.  Japanese Americans were forcibly put in Internment Camps (1942 to 1946), a policy of the U.S. government that people of Japanese descent would be interred in isolated camps during WWII; their possessions (houses, bank accounts) taken away.

Countless children of undocumented immigrants are separated from their parents, the youngest less than a year old, and put in cages.  Hundreds of these separated children are still unable to locate their parents.

Historically the US government passed laws to discriminate Chinese.  It’s time laws are passed to protect the Chinese instead.

There needs to be accountability. There were no consequences when Trump used “Chinese virus” and “kung-flu” to spread hatred and xenophobia.  I believe it is partly why there are so many anti-Asian hate crimes now.  If Trump could get away from it, people are thinking ‘why can’t I’.

We need CHANGE. We need ACTION. We need it NOW.

What can you do?  We need allies.  Start by learning about our history, struggles as well as the long history of targeted discrimination. Knowledge is the cure for ignorance. Check out the resources below:

My voice is small.  Despite that, I will still use my tiny platform to ensure a safe and equitable future for my niece and nephews, the next generations.  My grandpa arrived in NYC in 1917.  I can’t even imagine what kind of discrimination he’d faced in his lifetime. 100+ yrs later – it’s sad things have not changed much.

Thank you for reading and for wanting to know more.  

MealPal Review

I started a MealPal account yesterday.  $5.99 per meal, plus tax and fees for lunch doesn’t sound.  Their selling point is you save money.  But you get what you paid for.  The portions are smaller.  They are $5.99 size.  When I get a regular lunch order, I can usually save half for lunch and half for dinner.

Conclusion – I am not really saving money.  But the small portions might help me loose weight.