Anna May Wong – The Woman Who Died a Thousand Times

November 10, 2010

Almost half a century after her death, Anna May Wong (1905 to 1961) has not been forgotten.

As a child, Anna loved going to the movies and even cut school to go to the show.

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. The Western stereotype cast her as a sneaky, untrustworthy woman that always fell for a Caucasian man. The dark side of achieving her dream of acting in movies was that 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.”

Until Chinese started to emigrate to the U.S. in the mid-19th century, they had never encountered a people who considered them racially and culturally inferior.

The discrimination against the Chinese in America was only exceeded by the racism and hatred directed at African-Americans.

In fact, in the 1960s, many of the anti racist laws enacted during the Civil Rights era focused on protecting African-Americans, which created a protected class.

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 US today and manifests itself through the media as China bashing, which supports the old stereotype.

When Anna May Wong visited China in 1936, she had to abandon a trip to her parent’s ancestral village when a mob accused her of disgracing China.

After her return to Hollywood, she was determined to play Chinese characters that were not stereotypes, but it was a losing battle. To escape the hateful racism, she lived in Europe for a few years.

Since U.S. law 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 married.

Anna May Wong smoked and drank too much. She died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California at age 56.

Discover The Home Song Stories

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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Stereotypes

August 15, 2010

In this post, I’m going to focus on Americans and Asians/Chinese.

I taught in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural school district for thirty years (1975-2005). In fact, Nogales High School in La Puente California had a student population that was about 70% Latino, 8% black, 8% white, 8% Asian and 6% other.

Most of my Asian students did the homework and earned mostly A’s. One Asian girl earned an A minus on a quarter-report card and came after school to find out what she’d done wrong and how to fix it.  She was in tears.

My wife and daughter are Chinese and I’ve seen them worry about the occasional A minus too.  Why?  Because an A- is too close to a B+. Doing exceptional in school is an important cornerstone in most Chinese families.  Did you notice that I added “most”? There are always exceptions.

In one class I taught, a Latino student said that the Asians were smarter than the rest of the ethnic groups.  That particular class had no Asians in it. 

Everyone in the room agreed but me. I replied, “You’re wrong. Asians aren’t smarter than the other races. The difference is that Asian culture values learning more.  Most Asian parents are more dedicated and involved with their children’s educations.”

In this YouTube video, a female Chinese teen talks about the common Chinese stereotype that “all” Chinese eat rice, avoid the sun, are good at math and are Kung Fu experts.

This spoof shows Americans as stupid and violent.

This video is a Feel-Good rant from a Chinese teen who doesn’t want to be seen as an uncool, unpopular nerd who only eats fried rice and dumplings.  Kevin says there are three main Asian stereotypes that he has to deal with. 

1. Others think he is cheap
2. That he is a nerd
3. And has no social life…

This one was shot by a teen who points out that Americans are rebellious and meddling.

Another Chinese teen talks about Asians and school.  She says that in a Chinese family everything the child is “NOT allowed to do” is linked to success in school.

Australians think of Americans as being fat, arrogant, and obnoxious.

What do you think about other cultures and races?  Do you stereotype others?

See the Failure of Multiculturalism in the United States or Education and Cultures Collide in the US

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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