The Chinese in America – Part 2/3

June 8, 2011

This was the second post from 2010 that I remembered after reading John Putnam’s guest post of the Chinese during the California Gold Rush.

Angel Island in San Francisco Bay was America’s west coast Ellis Island.

From 1919 to 1940, mostly Asian immigrants entered the US through Angel Island.

After 1940, the immigration station on Angel Island was forgotten until a California Park Ranger, Alexander Weiss, discovered the stories carved in the walls.

He thought that there were stories here as if there were ghosts waiting to be heard.

Over half of the Angel Island immigrants came from China and Japan and most of the carvings on the walls were poems written in Chinese.

A former detainee, Dale Ching, went through the station in 1937 when he was sixteen. Even though Dale’s father was born in the United States, he still had to go through the immigration station.

While the East Coast’s Ellis Island welcomed immigrants, Angel Island’s story was one of sadness and suffering.

Most European immigrants who went through Ellis Island stayed a few hours, but immigrants on Angel Island were kept locked up under armed guard with barbed-wire fences surrounding the buildings and some people stayed for days, weeks, months and years.

The park service wanted to tear the Angel Island buildings down but Weiss found supporters and they struggled to preserve this history. They succeeded and the restoration project was challenging.

Alexander Weiss sums up the video saying we should know both the right and the wrong from U.S. history.

Continued on June 9, 2011 in The Chinese in America – Part 3 or return to Part 1

This post first appeared on September 8, 2010 as America’s Angel Island

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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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The Chinese in America – Part 1/3

June 7, 2011

While reading John Putnam’s guest post of the Chinese during the California Gold Rush, I thought of several other posts I wrote about the Chinese in America.

Putnam wrote, “White miners soon arrived and pushed the Chinese out…”

The first major wave of Chinese immigrants came to the US after the California gold rush of 1849.

Then in 1882, The Chinese Exclusion Act formalized an ugly American prejudice. In fact, there are still Americans who feel this way evidenced by a few comments left on this Blog. However, we are fortunate that more Americans appear open minded and accepting than those who do not feel that way.

This act stayed in effect de facto until 1965, when racist provisions of U.S. immigration law were removed during the Civil Rights era, liberalizing immigration by all non-European groups.

Most of these Chinese immigrants worked hard in industries like railroads, mines and canneries. The Chinese were willing to work for lower wages than European immigrants were demanding.

When there were labor strikes, companies often used Chinese workers as strikebreakers. This led to hate among European immigrants and demands that led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese laborers from entering the US.

This was the first time the US passed a law to bar a specific race or ethnicity from entering the country. Source: Tenement Museum

Continued on June 8, 2011 in The Chinese in America – Part 2

This post first appeared on August 30, 2010 as Discrimination Against the Chinese in America

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at
the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.