The Chinese in America – Part 3/3

June 9, 2011

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

In fact, her life is another example of the continued discrimination against Asian-Americans and Chinese in the US by other ethnic groups, which includes Caucasions, African Americans and Latinos.

The first indication of this discrimination and racisim in the US against Chinese and/or Asian Americans appeared during the  California Gold Rush, which John Putnam wrote of in Chinese in the Gold Rush.

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.

Then 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, racism toward the Chinese still exists in the US 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.

Return to Part 2 or start with The Chinese in America – Part 1

This post first appeared on November 10, 2010 as Anna May Wong – The Woman Who Died a Thousand Times

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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.

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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.

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.


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.


Freedom’s Evolution

May 11, 2010

A debate took place on Left of the Right, not by Devin Barber, the Blog’s host, but between me and another person who called him or herself Timothy. This person made comments calling me an asshole and a propaganda spewing scumbag among other insults, because he disagreed with my opinions regarding China even though I supported most or all of my opinions with facts. You may read the entire debate by clicking on the above link to see an example of Timothy’s conservative beliefs.

One of my last responses was a comparison between America and China and the trail to freedom that both counties have followed and are still traveling. What follows is a slightly edited version.

In 1781, the American War for Independence from the British Empire ended, but there was still slavery in the Southern States.

American Revolution

In 1861 to 1865, (eight-four years after America’s revolution) America divided and fought a bloody Civil War that ended slavery. More than six hundred thousand Americans died in that conflict. 

However, women still could not own property or vote. Women were considered chattel.  The women’s rights movement started in 1848. In 1920 (seventy-two years later), the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granted women the vote.

American history is full of facts about how people of color were discriminated against and were second-class citizens until the Civil Rights Movement between 1955 to 1968.  It took one-hundred-and-three years after the end of slavery to end discrimination against people of color—at least legally.

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The bloody and painful evolutionary trail to freedom in China started in 1913 when warlords ended Imperial rule.  Eventually a dictatorship replaced the warlords.  The Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek was a dictatorship under martial law even in Taiwan until the 1980s when the first election was held there.

Another step back was World War II with the Japanese invading China that cost about 30 million Chinese their lives. That ended in 1945, followed by the revolution between the Communists and Kuomintang dictatorship.  Soon after Mao won that revolution in 1949 and took over China to become China’s modern emperor for twenty-seven years, he declared that women were equal to men.  Then there was the Great Leap Forward, which was more like two leaps back followed by the Cultural Revolution that cost another thirty-seven million Chinese their lives.

Chinese Revolution

After Mao died in 1976, the Communist Government under Deng Xiaoping’s guidance rewrote their constitution, repudiated Marxist, Maoist revolutionary doctrine and opened China to the world launching a market economy, which is on steroids today.

Since that new start, amendments have been added to the Chinese Constitution. Read it carefully and you will see that freedom of speech in China is limited by a constitution that is taught in the schools and in the factories. Although some Chinese dissidents have been arrested for speaking and jailed with other criminals, 98.8% of the population remains free and appears to have no problem obeying that law.

America’s journey to become a nation where ALL citizens are protected by the Bill of Rights took one-hundred-and-eight-seven years from 1781 to 1968.

China, after Mao, has had only thirty-four years to evolve.  Who knows where China will be in another century and a half. Timothy sees the glass half-empty. Since I watch China, I’ve seen the small steps that China has been taking, and I see the cup half-full and improving with time. I hope I’m right, because Timothy seems to believe that China is evil and will invade the United States in a few decades. What do you think?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning novels My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. He also Blogs at The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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