Donald Trump’s Revival of Racism in the U.S. reminds me of the Chinese woman who died a thousand times

November 28, 2018

Until Chinese started to immigrate to the United States in the mid-19th century, they never encountered a people who considered them racially and culturally inferior. At the time, the discrimination against the Chinese in America was only exceeded by the racism directed at African-Americans.

The Chinese-American woman I’m thinking of was Anna May Wong (1905 to 1961), and the American brand of racism that hatched the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers also had a negative impact on the life of this woman.

As a child, Anna loved going to the movies and even cut school to go to the show. Eventually, she gained some success in film as an actress. Between 1919 and 1961, she acted in 62 films. The Internet Movie Data Base says she was the “first Chinese-American movie star”.

However, to act, Anna had to play the roles she was given. Because she was Chinese, the American racist stereotype always cast her as a sneaky, untrustworthy woman that only fell for Caucasian men. The price she paid to act in movies meant Anna had to die so the characters she played got what they deserved.

Anna often joked that her tombstone should read, “Here lies the woman who died a thousand times.”

In fact, in the 1960s, many of the anti-racist laws enacted during the Civil Rights era focused on protecting African-Americans. Since the Chinese, due to cultural differences, often did not complain, they were left behind.

In many respects, this racism toward the Chinese still exists in the U.S. today and manifests itself through the media as China bashing. How often have you been reminded of the alleged Tiananmen Square Massacre or the millions Mao allegedly murdered during the Great Famine and have never heard that China in the last thirty years is responsible for 90-percent of the world’s reduction in poverty?

Anna was determined to play Chinese characters that were not stereotypes, but it was a losing battle. To escape the hateful racism that murdered her dreams, she lived in Europe for a few years before returning to the racist U.S.

Since the law in the United States at the time did not allow her to marry the Caucasian man she loved, and she was afraid that if she married a Chinese man he would force her to give up acting since Chinese culture judged actresses to be the same as prostitutes, she never got married or had children.

Anna May Wong died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California at age 56. For her contribution to the film industry, Anna May Wong received a star at 1708 Vine Street on the inauguration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Power Women Hold in China vs the U.S.

November 21, 2018

Since the end of foot binding in 1949, when Mao said women hold up half the sky, how much power have women gained in China vs the United States?

On July 4, 1776, when the U.S. became a country, women were considered the property of men and they were not allowed to vote. It wasn’t until June 4, 1919 when the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution that women gained the right to vote.

The Chinese Communist Party didn’t wait almost 143 years to make women equal to men and technically, women in the U.S. are still not equal because the Equal Rights Amendment has never been passed.

In October 2017, the BBC reported, “Of the 89.4 million members of the Chinese Communist Party, just fewer than 23 million are women – that’s 26%.

“And women make up 24% of China’s National Congress – the sprawling national parliament. You don’t have to be a Communist Party member to sit on that.

“Women are less represented the higher up the political tree you climb.

“After the last Congress in 2012, only 33 women sat on the Central Committee which elects the powerful Politburo – that’s 9%.

“Only two of the 25 members of that Politburo were women – 8%.”

How about the power Women hold in the United States?

Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics reported, the “Percentage of Women in Elective office. In 2018, 20-percent held seats in the U.S. Congress, 23.7 percent held statewide Elective offices and 25.4 percent held seats in state legislatures.”

The United States doesn’t have a Central Committee but it does have the President’s Cabinet that was established in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.

Trump’s cabinet currently has 22 members listed and only five are women (was six but one recently quit), or 22.7-percent. Cabinet members are not elected but they must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

China’s Central Committee is currently composed of 205 full members and 171 alternate members. Thirty-three are women.

Members are nominally elected once every five years by the national Congress of the Communist Party of China. The Central Committee is, formally, the “party’s highest organ of authority” when the National Congress is not in session. Of the 2,280 delegates at the National Congress, less than a quarter was women.

No woman has ever been China’s president since the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, but the United States also has never had a woman as its president.

“Even though Mao once famously said, ‘Women hold up half the sky’, women still have a long way to go in their fights for equal representation.”

The same holds true for the United States.

China Power.org says, “China’s constitution guarantees women ‘equal rights with men in all spheres of life,’ and over the last several decades, women in China have enjoyed some notable gains. Life expectancy and literacy rates, for instance, have risen as China’s economy has developed. This progress, however, has been outpaced by the rest of the world. China’s ranking in the index fell sharply from 63rd out of 115 countries in 2006 to 100th out of 144 countries in 2017.”

While women in the U.S. have achieved 1st place in educational attainment, women in China are ranked 102nd. China has also taken strides to improve postnatal care … a significant improvement over the US, which has no federally mandated leave.

On Global Gender Parity, Chinese women beat American women for political empowerment. China is ranked 77th and the US is in 96th place.

Then there are the billionaires. Barrons.com reports, “China dominated a ranking of the world’s self-made female billionaires, making up almost two-thirds of the total, as well as sweeping the top four spots.” … “In total, China had 64 self-made women billionaires, representing 63% of the total. … “The U.S., with 17 women billionaires, had the second largest share of the list, accounting for 17% of the total.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Crazy Rich Asians – a Review

August 28, 2018

I saw “Crazy Rich Asians” on Wednesday, August 15, the day the film was released, near where I live, a few days before the film earned the #1 rank at the box office for its first weekend. The following Sunday I went to see another film and there was a long line waiting to see “Crazy Rich Asians”.

Opening Weekend: $26,510.140
(#1 rank, 3,384 theaters, $7,834 average)
Box Office Mojo

Crazy Rich Asians” is the 2nd film I’ve seen that I think reveals what goes on inside an overseas Chinese family. I haven’t read the books (a trilogy) the film was based on, but I plan to. The first book in the trilogy came out in 2013.

The first book and film was Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club”.

Both books and films reveal the inner workings of overseas Chinese families.

Chinese American New Yorker Rachel Chu flies to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick Young, to attend his best friend’s wedding in Singapore where she runs into his Singapore Chinese family that’s split over accepting or rejecting Rachel. The elder and ruling members of the family do not approve of Nick’s girlfriend while some of the younger members of the family accept her without reservation as long as the elders don’t know they support Rachel.

In Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club” (Hardcover 1989) we are introduced to a tiger mother, who grew up and immigrated to the U.S. from China, and her rebellious American Chinese daughter. In 2009, I married into a Chinese family with an immigrant mother and American Chinese daughter.  I married the mother who is Anchee Min. The marriage survived for sixteen years and we are still friends. I think that qualifies me as a reliable witness to the inner working of an oversees Chinese family.

Although the film for “Crazy Rich Asians” focuses on the fact that Nick Young’s super wealthy and powerful Shanghai Chinese family thinks of themselves as “Chinese”, the fact is they are also overseas Chinese just like Rachel is, because most if not all Chinese in China think of everyone that is Chinese living outside of China as overseas Chinese.  Maybe Singapore Chinese are considered less overseas since they live closer to China than Rachel from New York.

Now, before you jump to conclusions, do not stereotype Chinese. Not all Chinese think and act the same as the family in “Joy Luck Club” or “Crazy Rich Asians”.  Not all Chinese are rich or are tiger parents. Another book I recommend is the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. But again, Chua is overseas Chinese born in the United States to immigrant parents. “Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children’s individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Qing Dynasty’s Last Leader was a Woman: Part 2 of 2

June 20, 2018

The National Library of Australia reports, “Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, was asked to examine the Backhouse manuscript by its Swiss custodians. In Hermit of Peking: The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse, Trevor-Roper dismissed the autobiography as historically worthless fiction by a man he called a forger, confidence trickster and fantasist. He concluded, ‘Backhouse’s ‘memoirs’ are not an edifying work. They are a pornographic novelette’, and unpublishable.”

But Backhouse’s journalistic fraud served as the foundation for most history texts still used today that continue to slander Tzu Hsi.

To do Tzu Hsi justice and to discover the truth, one should read Seagrave’s Dragon Lady, The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China.

To learn who the real woman was that ruled China pay attention to what Robert Hart wrote about Hzu Hsi in his letters and journals.  Robert Hart arrived in China from Ireland in 1854 to learn the language as an interpreter for the British consulate in Ningpo. In 1859, almost five years later, Hart quit his job with the British and went to work for the Emperor of China as an employee. He returned to England in 1908.

When I was researching Robert Hart’s life while working on my historical fiction novel My Splendid Concubine, I learned that Hart became Inspector General of Chinese Maritime Customs and worked closely with the Imperial ministers and Manchu princes. Before returning to England after living in China for fifty-four years, Hart met with the Dowager Empress in a private audience inside the Forbidden City.

Hart referred to Tzu Hsi as “the Buddha” and later “the old Buddha” since she was a devout Buddhist and it is obvious that he thought of her with affection and admiration.

In fact, Hart, who is considered the Godfather of China’s modernization, at no time indicated in anything he wrote that Tzu Hsi was conspiratorial, sinister or manipulative. However, he did indicate that she was strong-willed and hot-tempered, clever and had ability.

Tzu Hsi died in 1908 a few weeks after Robert Hart left China and returned to England to live out his final few years. The Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911, the same year Robert Hart died.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Qing Dynasty’s Last Leader was a Woman: Part 1 of 2

June 19, 2018

Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi ruled the Qing Dynasty as a coregent after her husband, the Xianfeng Emperor died in 1861, and her son, The Tongzhi Emperor (1856 – 1875), was too young at age five to rule China.

Sterling Seagrave, the author of Dragon Lady, writes, “Absurdly little was known about her life. The New York Times printed a long, error filled obituary calling her Tzu An, the title of her coregent, who had died twenty-seven years earlier.”

Many current history texts continue to slander the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835 – 1908) without much evidence as one of history’s most monstrous women, an alleged ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through prevision, corruption and intrigue.

This is how many still think of Tzu Hsi. In addition, she was accused of murdering her son, and then years later her nephew, who died the day before she did.

Instead, her son died of syphilis because he preferred prostitutes to the hundreds of virgin concubines that belonged to him. Rumors claimed that Tzu Hsi had her nephew poisoned, but Yuan Shikai may have had him poisoned so he could become the next emperor. There is no evidence to support either allegation.

How did Tzu Hsi earn such a bad reputation?

It seems that she earned this reputation similar to how today’s China has been smeared in much of the Western media. Thanks to a liar and fraud by the name of Edmund Backhouse, who was a reporter for The London Times and his bestselling book “China under the Empress Dowagers”, Tzu Hsi’s fate to be labeled a monster and murderer  was guaranteed until 1976 when Backhouse’s fraud and lies were revealed.

Continued in Part 2 on June 20, 2018

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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How far are you willing to go to enhance your beauty?

May 2, 2018

In ancient China, the process of foot binding usually started between the ages of four and seven.  Feet were soaked in a blood and herb mixture. Toes were broken. Then the arch was broken. There was extreme pain since no drugs were used. It is estimated that in about a thousand year period about two billion Chinese women went through the process.

But China wasn’t always like this. According to historical accounts, foot binding appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1276 AD). That means Chinese women before the Song Dynasty did not have their feet broken to keep them small. In fact, during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), women gained more freedom that wouldn’t return until after the Civil War that the Chinese Communist Party won in 1949.

The Manchu leaders of the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) attempted to stop foot binding, and Manchu women did not bind their feet, but many Han women continued the practice. More than 90-percent of China’s population is Han.

In 1928, the Nationalist government also attempted to end foot binding but with mixed success. In rural areas, large feet were still considered unattractive and unacceptable and the practice continued. Smithsonian Magazine says, “Despite the pain, millions of Chinese women stood firm in their devotion to the tradition.”

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco reports, “Even in 19th century San Francisco, there were Chinese girls and women with bound feet.”

For millions of Chinese women, the practice of foot binding continued until 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party came into power and enacted laws that made women equal to men for the first time in China’s history.

And if you think the practice of foot binding in China was horrible, the BBC reports, “There are still plenty of fashion victims in the 21st Century. ‘Although we haven’t got corsets or crinolines anymore, there are now people having their ribs removed to get a smaller waist.’”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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