Using Personal Narratives to Reposition and Reimagine "the Chinese American Experience" in American History and Culture.
Asian Americans, and Chinese Americans in particular, have been and continue to be subjected to many stereotypes and misunderstandings in American culture and society. This paper explores those stereotypes and suggests a teaching method using personal narratives to light them. For many in America today, Asian Americans are often seen as a silent, passive "model" and homogeneous minority. Asia itself, despite a turn toward China in American policy and business, is likewise typically seen through an Orientalist gaze that obscures many of its cultural, historical, and political realities and complexities. For Americans to truly become "global citizens," we must correct these misunderstandings and fight harmful stereotypes. (1) The author argues that using personal narratives and individual experiences not only can provide entry points into diverse experiences and worldviews but also can significantly deconstruct stereotypes and ignorance. Furthermore, examining diverse experiences within "the Chinese American Experience" critiques commonly held notions of homogeneity and expands the notion of who belongs in American history. The author draws on teaching experiences to introduce several key biographies and memoirs that are relevant to Chinese American experiences.
This paper discusses the use of personal narratives to teach about the complexities of the Chinese American experience. Drawing on the author's experiences teaching university students, it is argued that memoirs and biographies not only provide entry points into diverse experiences and worldviews but also serve to deconstruct stereotypes and combat ignorance. Personal narratives reveal the construction of a Chinese American identity; yet within that framework these sources also show us the diverse and plural experiences within the Chinese American experience. This enables an important critique of commonly held notions of Chinese and Chinese American homogeneity. This paper discusses several key biographies and memoirs, with special attention to ways in which they may be used to fight these common misunderstandings and contribute to a richer, more realistic portrait of Chinese Americans, which in turn lends itself to a deeper understanding of American history and culture. (2)
PERSONAL NARRATIVES AND THEIR USES
The scholarly literature on personal narratives and on using them in teaching reflects two particular points. First, in recent years there has been a "memoir boom," that is to say, a major trend in the publishing of personal narratives. (3) Second, the study and use of personal narratives, generally speaking, is inherently interdisciplinary. What could broadly be termed as "personal narratives" or "life narratives," these sources
have been used across the social sciences and humanities, for various purposes. (4) Psychologists and other social scientists may use oral history and life history interviews to generate further data and test hypotheses. As anthropologists have increasingly endeavored to include historical context, they are often granted unique opportunities in fieldwork to record life history narratives. (5) Anthropologist Roxana Waterson points out that "official histories never capture all of the diversity of individual experiences; the study of personal narratives, on the other hand, multiplies the voices that reach us from the past." (6) At the same time, historians employ oral history as a method to generate further questions or to test hypotheses, and they analyze memoirs and autobiographies as a particular kind of primary source. Historian Paula Fass states, "For historians, the memoir is an important historical tool, and for social historians especially, it provides the appealing voice too often otherwise missing as we try to reconstruct the lives of ordinary people." (7)
In teaching, many have noted that using personal narratives is an extremely effective way to introduce students to a variety of social, cultural, and historical experiences. Historian Jennifer Trost writes about using personal narratives in a world history survey class in order for her students to relate to people in other cultures and to get beyond their Eurocentric worldviews. (8) Using in-depth, first-person accounts to "personalize" world history, Trost has found that her students prefer this approach over the use of a standard textbook. Waterson points out that using first-person accounts fosters a "democratizing urge to listen to the voices of the nonfamous" and a "commitment to seeking out the voices of the marginalized and disempowered." (9)
Pointing to the universality of the genre, G. Thomas Couser states, "Memoir is the literacy face of a very common fundamental human activity: the narration of our lives in our terms. It is rooted in deep human needs, desires and habitual practices. Nearly everyone engages in some form of this." (10) This also speaks to the reason that personal narratives are popular for use in college classes: they appeal to college students who are also in the process of their own identity formation. Autobiography is a "particular mode of telling about the self' (11) and of "creating coherence." (12) Personal narratives are intrinsically about the self and the intersection with the social or historical context. (13) As Waterson reminds us, self-consciousness as well as a historical consciousness simultaneously emerge from the telling of one's own story. (14) A truly effective personal narrative may cause a similar shift for the reader as well, as is detailed in the section below.
Whatever their discipline, and whether using personal narratives for research or for teaching, scholars agree that there are certain cautions in using these sources. First is the issue of representativeness. First-person accounts are not necessarily representative of the whole society or historical context and must be taken with some wariness. All of the forms classified under the heading "personal narratives" rely on memory, and as Couser reminds us, memory is a "notoriously unreliable and highly selective faculty." (15) Therefore, when using such forms, scholars or readers must also be cognizant of the limitations of the genre. When assigning a memoir in a class, professors should take care to also give students secondary readings that give more information in the larger context and must encourage students to pay attention to issues of author bias. (16) After all, as Smith and Watson remind us, "memories are records of how we have experienced events, not replicas of the events themselves." (17)
FIGHTING THE MASTER NARRATIVE: CHINESE AMERICANS AS AMERICANS
Asia and Asians, as well as Americans of Asian descent, have been characterized according to a set of prevailing misunderstandings that have dominated American and European notions over the past few centuries. Edward Said's seminal work helped to outline and critique the dominant lens of Orientalism, which posits East and West as two polar opposites. (18) Orientalism assumes a level of homogeneity about each society and obscures the commonalities between them, and persistently fetishizes and exoticizes the "Oriental other." Other persistent stereotypes about Asians and Asian Americans include those of "perpetual foreigners" (19) and the "model minority."
Related closely to the notion that Asians in America are "perpetual foreigners" is the concept of the "Master Narrative of American History." Coined by influential historian and scholar Ronald Takaki, the "Master Narrative of American History" posits that America was "settled by European immigrants and Americans are white." (20) This "filter," as Takaki calls it, frames American history as White history, and teaches that any non-White, non-European person is not an American. Takaki states:
What I call the Master Narrative of American History is the pervasive, popular but mistaken story that this country, our country, was settled by European immigrants, that Americans are white or European in ancestry. This master narrative can be injurious. It is a racist narrative that narrowly defines who is an American. It's like a current under the surface of our consciousness and our politics as to who is an American. (21)
In this section the paper examines the ways that personal narratives can be used to challenge this "Master Narrative of American History."
Among Asian Americans, Chinese Americans were one of the first groups to immigrate from Asia in large numbers, arriving in the mid-1800s in response to hearing about the gold rush in California. (22) In this early era many Chinese immigrants did not arrive in America intending to settle permanently but instead planned to eventually return to China. Furthermore, they were not allowed to bring their wives and children due to the double restrictions from both the Qing dynasty and the U.S. government. Among Chinese, the first to go on record espousing a Chinese American identity was writer and newspaper publisher Wong Chin Foo, whose newspaper Chinese American was first published in 1883, as Seligman shows in his excellent biography. (23) Immigration from China was banned in 1882 with the passage of the first Chinese Exclusion Act (which stood until its 1943 repeal).
Despite the growing notion of a Chinese and American identity, Chinese (and other Asians) in the United States were denied the right to become naturalized citizens until after World War II with the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, which ended racial restrictions on citizenship. These restrictions were perhaps unsurprising given the fact that Chinese immigration had been banned through the Chinese Exclusion Acts. Apparently from the early years Chinese were perceived by Americans as an alien race and basically inassimilable to American society. At the same time, Chinese (or other Asians) born on American soil were theoretically granted citizenship following the principle of birthright citizenship. Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco in 1873, among the approximately I percent of Chinese at the time who were born in the United States and were thus citizens. (24) Birthright citizenship coincided with post-Civil War Reconstruction and specifically the Fourteenth Amendment, which sought to grant freed slaves citizenship but extended to all races (except Native Americans). However, this principle was often contested specifically for Chinese, seemingly at the whim of government agents. The case of Wong Kim Ark, little known today, illustrates this point.
According to court documents, and analyzed by Bethany Berger, Wong Kim Ark was born to Chinese immigrants in San Francisco in 1873. (25) In 1889 Wong had been to China and was married, and also fathered his first child. (26) In 1894 Wong was returning to California from a visit to his wife and young son in China when he was questioned by customs agents in San Francisco about his citizenship. (27) Wong was detained on the ship by the officials, who rejected his carefully prepared files, which included affidavits signed by White neighbors in San Francisco. Ultimately the California attorney general decided to use Wong's case to test the issue of Chinese birthright citizenship before the U.S. Supreme Court. (28) With Wong's lawyers paid for by the Chinese Six Companies, the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark was ruled in Wong's favor in 1898. Since Wong left no diary or letters, one can only imagine the difficulty of waiting for the court's decision, which was apparently delayed due to politics and elections. The majority opinion found the case to be a confirmation of the principles of the Fourteenth Amendment. According to Berger's analysis of the court documents, Wong was seeking confirmation of his citizenship not necessarily for "individual autonomy of assimilation" but rather for the ability to "maintain distinctly transnational familial, cultural, and community relationships." (29) In fact, apparently even within his own family, the story of his successful Supreme Court appeal had been lost to history until a descendant, Sandra Wong, rediscovered this history in the early 2000s. (30) If only Wong Kim Ark had written down his story!
The stories of other pioneering Chinese in America have also been depicted in biographies. Probably the biggest gap in the literature for nineteenth-century Chinese in the United States is that of Chinese women. Although characterized as "biographical fiction," Ruthanne Lum McCunn's Thousand Pieces of Gold is a key work that reinserts women into the narrative of the Chinese in nineteenth-century America. (31) This book tells the story of Polly Bemis (Lalu Nathoy) whose journey from Shanghai to San Francisco in the 1860s, to the frontiers of Idaho on the Salmon River, illustrate a lesser-known version of Chinese in America. Polly Bemis's story is one of resilience and persistence, and ultimately acceptance in the tiny rural community in Idaho where she lived until her death in 1933. (32)
These stories illustrate the different ways that Chinese Americans, among other racial and ethnic groups, carved out their own lives in the United States and contributed to their communities in key ways. Studying these early Chinese pioneers is mostly relegated to biography and historical research rather than memoir, since so few of them wrote their own stories. These experiences show the many ways that Chinese resisted the restrictive category of "perpetual foreigner."
FIGHTING THE MODEL MINORITY STEREOTYPE: EDDIE HUANG
In 1987 Time magazine and CBS's 60 Minutes reported on Asian Americans' academic success and questioned why African Americans were failing. (33) President Ronald Reagan agreed and publicly chastised Blacks for being dependent on the welfare system. (34) As Takaki notes, this was one factor that led to the demolishing of affirmative action programs as California passed Proposition 209 in 1996, repealing affirmative action. The myth of the "model minority" also contributed to stereotypes about Asians as passive and weak, only interested in books. This tied into earlier ideas of the Chinese as an "alien" race in America and the assumption that Chinese men were impotent--both sexually and physically--at the same time that they were inherently seen as a threat to White purity. It is in response to these often contradictory notions of the Chinese that we can view Eddie Huang's bestselling memoir Fresh Off the Boat. (35) Unique among Chinese American memoirs, Huang depicts himself as a rebel who is vehemently fighting the role of the model minority that he feels has been foisted on him by both his family and the larger society.
Whereas most memoirs are acts of memory--recording the past for the future generations--Huang's is an act of pure rebellion. Using curse words and graphic language, Huang is sending a message to the reader. His memoir can also be seen as a "counter narrative" to both the model minority and the perpetual foreigner myths. Like Maxine Hong Kingston's seminal work The Woman Warrior several generations prior, (36) which acknowledged the experiences of Chinese American women in an era of rising consciousness in the United States about gender, race, and identity, Huang's voice appeals to a new generation. In his memoir, Huang is looking to break the mold, defy expectations, smash stereotypes. Even the title is meant to provoke: a reappropriation of the derogatory term describing new immigrants: "fresh off the boat" or FOB.
There are key ways in which Huang's memoir departs from most Chinese American memoirs and biographies. His book presents a raw testimony. Huang unflinchingly depicts his youthful forays into rap music, hip-hop culture, crime, and drugs, what he calls his "downward assimilation." (37) Ultimately this descent signifies Huang's attempt to fit into a niche of American society. He comes to identify heavily with African Americans as a young man, feeling downtrodden as a minority. This helps him resist pressures to assimilate, and be socially acceptable, instead giving him the gravitas to forge his own path. He depicts himself as a "Chinkstronaut"--a pioneer paving the way for his people. (38)
Huang's memoir spares no one from criticism. He recounts harsh disciplines at home, such as his father forcing him to kneel and bow three times to apologize to his neighbors for stealing a yard decoration and then spend the rest of the evening kneeling in the driveway:
I mean, in the middle of a gated Orlando subdivision, there was a Chinaman kneeling in the driveway for all passersby to see in all his shame. For hours, my dad left me out there as punishment. People had no idea what to make of it. Were we a cult? Was it religious? Was the rapture coming? I saw the faces in cars as they passed, laughing and pointing in pure shock at this ancient Chinese ritual that had somehow landed. (39)
Huang is vivid in his descriptions of the corporal punishment used by his parents. He also uses humor to defuse these painful memories. Furthermore, with the benefit of time, his view on these events in his childhood reflect a maturity about realizing the importance of family and culture: "As the oldest [child], I felt I could argue with my parents, but I had to still obey them." (40)
Similar to most Chinese American memoirs, Huang does ultimately embrace his culture as a Chinese American and the importance of family and tradition. He does this primarily through a reconnection with Chinese food via a visit back to his parents' hometown, Taipei, which ultimately leads him to pursue his passion as a professional chef. (41) Furthermore, in addition to family and tradition, Huang eventually comes to accept education as a means to his success and enlightenment. On the one hand this supports the model minority myth; on the other hand he describes how learning about the model minority led him to reject assimilation and embrace critical thinking. He writes with passion about the "Uncle Chans" who embrace being model minorities and the "Rotten Bananas" like himself who reject Asian American privilege.
DEBUNKING THE NOTION OF CHINESE HOMOGENEITY
Memoirs and biographies can be used to dispel notions of Chinese homogeneity in several key ways. The idea that all people of "one race" are somehow the same is something that today most rational minds would reject. However, when approaching the unknown, many people do not question such stereotypes. Assumptions about Chinese homogeneity stem at least in part from the history between China and the West and the Orientalist notions about Asia. Personal narratives illustrate several themes that refute this assumed homogeneity: the racial and ethnic diversity among Chinese people, the diversity of experiences among Chinese immigrants in adapting to life in the United States, and the transnational connections between Chinese abroad and Chinese in China.
There are several Chinese American memoirs that debunk Chinese homogeneity, by illuminating racial and ethnic diversity; for example, Lam Tri's biography of his grandfather, who emigrated from Guangdong to Can Tho in southern Vietnam around 1910 at about the age of twenty. (42) Lam, of Teo Chow ethnicity, soon became a trader in one of the world's biggest rice-producing regions of the time. The family invested in their children's education and were keen to raise them as Teo Chow, even in Vietnam. They built a Chinese school and established a Teo Chow temple, and sponsored Teo Chow relatives to emigrate from southern China to Vietnam. Despite the fact that Tri Lam's grandfather married a Vietnamese woman, the children were raised not just as Chinese but as Teo Chow. The author grew up in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. Ultimately the family fled after the fall of Saigon in 1975, as oceanic refugees to North America. (43) Resettling in the United States and Canada, the author and his family strongly identified as Chinese but also traced their roots to Vietnam.
Lastly Lisa See's On Gold Mountain provides an unusual Chinese American memoir that illuminates life as a multiracial person. (44) See, daughter of well-known California author Carolyn See, was raised to identify with her Chinese ancestry and grew up in her grandparents' antique store in Los Angeles's Chinatown. Her family memoir traces her family back to her great-great-grandfather, who arrived in the United States in 1867 from Guangdong Province. His son, Fong See, married a White American woman and later generations also married other races. Yet the family continued to celebrate their Chinese heritage.
As the CHSA 2018 Conference theme articulated, there is no singular Chinese American experience. Personal narratives help to illustrate this.
TEACHING WITH MEMOIRS: A MODEL
In this section the author presents some reflections garnered from students in several different classes at Cal Poly. In order to teach a diversity of experience, the author has used memoirs and biographies to give students the personal view and invite them to "step into someone else's shoes." This is an area where memoirs and biographies work very well. The author has incorporated memoirs into classes on Chinese American Experience, Asian American Studies, East Asian and Southeast Asian History, and American History. (45)
As an instructor I hesitated to use Eddie Huang's Fresh Off the Boat because of the strong language and vitriolic tone. However, I found that the book resonated with my students, of all races, and it became a favorite from quarter to quarter. The best memoirs, like Huang's, illustrate possibilities in life, and the impacts of the choices that we make as individuals.
Students, regardless of racial or ethnic background, found that Huang's memoir was captivating in its depiction of a young Chinese American. For those students who do not come from a Chinese or Asian background, they appreciated the ways in which his memoir gives an "insider's perspective" into the Chinese American experience, and also the humorous ways in which that is accomplished.
Asian American students tended to relate the book to their own experiences. One wrote: I too have struggled with being Asian in a majority white neighborhood and was constantly juggling and trying to Jake my identity and values just to fit in. I no longer need to do that.
Another wrote: As a Chinese American, I can relate to the frustrations [Huang] discussed. I was acutely aware of my Asianness in the 1st grade when I was the only kid eating egg fried rice out of a Tupperware while everyone else was eating bologna sandwiches. Every time I looked in the mirror, my yellow skin and my slanted eyes served as reminders of my difference. Like Eddie, I had to deal with having slanted eyes and hearing "ching chong" jokes. (46)
These comments illustrate the pressures of assimilation and a reflection of the fact that Eddie Huang's memoir Fresh Off the Boat emphasizes resisting assimilation and stereotyping and finding one's own identity. Identity formation, psychologists tell us, is an essential element of young adults' maturation and so resonates with college students across racial and ethnic boundaries.
Another student shared: I want to thank you for introducing me to Huang's memoir; it not only made me feel comfortable in my own skin again (as an Asian American), but was the inspiration piece I used to apply for a study abroad program to visit the country of my parent's birth for the first time (Vietnam).
This comment highlights how the book helped this student embrace their heritage and incorporate it into their studies. It also showed how the memoir was relevant not just for Chinese Americans but also for Vietnamese Americans. Other Asian Americans noted the similarities between their experiences and Eddie Huang's:
Personally I loved this book because of how much I saw myself in Eddie ... the struggle of trying to be taken seriously as an Asian American man. Like Eddie, I am constrained by the expectations of my Asian (Filipino) parents, as well as the societal pressures to conform and fit into American society. I've learned that to make it my own way, I must be true to myself and fully embrace my unique identity.
From this comment it is evident that notions of gender are also important in identity formation, and Eddie Huang's memoir helped this particular student think further about the issues particular to Asian American men.
In this paper the author has argued that memoirs and biographies can be used to combat stereotypes and misunderstandings about Chinese Americans. The model minority and perpetual foreigner tropes have been discussed, as well as Orientalism and the presumed homogeneity of Chinese and Chinese Americans. Personal narratives are useful in dispelling wrongful notions about different groups within our multicultural society because they help students understand people's experiences from their own view. Furthermore, personal narratives lend themselves to students feeling a rapport with the writer and comparing their own experiences. America is far from a "postracial" society, and now more than ever we need to cultivate a respect for diverse cultures and diverse experiences. Ultimately Chinese American memoirs and biographies further our understandings of American history and culture.
The author would like to recognize the panelists of "Chinese American Literature and Historical Remembering," discussant Wei Ming Dariotis, and the conference participants for their comments and collegiality at the CHSA 2018 Conference in San Francisco.
APPENDIX: CHINESE AMERICAN MEMOIRS
See http://guides.lib.calpoly.edu/usingmenwirsforhistory for updates.
Chang, Pang-Mei Natasha. Bound Feet and Western Dress. New York: First Anchor Books, 1997.
Chin, Tung Pok, with Winifred C. Chin and introduction by K. Scott Wong. Paper Son: One Man's Story. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.
Fung, Eddie, with Judy Yung. The Adventures of Eddie Fung. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007.
Huang, Eddie. Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013.
Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts. New York: Vintage, 1975.
Lai, Him Mark, and Judy Yung. Him Mark !mi: Autobiography of a Chinese American Historian. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Press and Chinese Historical Society of America, 2011.
Lam, Tri. Lam Chi Phat: The Chronicle of an Overseas Chinese Family. Toronto: Lam Inter Media, 2001.
Lee, Stephen, with Howard Webster. Canton Elegy: A Father's Letter of Sacrifice, Survival and Enduring Love. London: Watkins Publishing, 2013.
Lee, William Poy. The Eighth Promise: An American Son's Tribute to His Toisanese Mother. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Press, 2007.
Lim, Sing. West Coast Chinese Boy. Toronto: Tundra Books, 1991.
Liu, Haiming. The Transnational History of a Chinese Family: Immigrant Letters, Family Business and Reverse Migration. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Lu, Chi Fa. Double Luck: Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan. New York: Holiday House, 2001.
Mah, Adeline Yen. Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter. New York: Ember, 2010.
Min, Anchee. The Cooked Seed: A Memoir. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014.
See, Lisa. On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese American Family. New York: Vintage, 1996.
Wing, Yung. My Life in China and America. New York: Henry Holt, 1909.
Wong, Jade Snow. Fifth Chinese Daughter. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.
Yang, Gene Luen. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006.
(1.) See Drew Noble Alexander, "Beyond Borders: What It Means to Be a Global Citizen," Huffington Post, https//www.huffingtonpost.com/drew-noble-alexanJer/bevond-borders-what-it-me_b_4473695.html.
(2.) My discussion of memoirs is limited to those published and written or translated into English.
(3.) See Paula S. Fass, "The Memoir Problem," Reviews in American History 34, no. I (March 2006): 107-23 and G. Thomas Couser, Memoir: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
(4.) Smith and Watson argue for the use of the term life writing or life narrative as more inclusive of the "hetereogeneity of self referential practices" and the new, globalized nature of the field. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), 5.
(5.) Roxana Waterson, "Introduction: Analysing Personal Narratives," in Southeast Asian Lives: Personal Narratives and Historical Experience, ed. Roxana Waterson (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007), 2.
(6.) Waterson, "Introduction," 2.
(7.) Fass, "The Memoir Problem," 108.
(8.) Jennifer Trost, "Using Personal Narratives to Teach a Global Perspective," History Teacher 42, no. 2 (Feb. 2009): 177-89.
(9.) Waterson, "Introduction," 5.
(10.) Couser, Memoir, 9.
(11.) Waterson, "Introduction," 3.
(12.) Charlotte Linde, Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).
(13.) Waterson, "Introduction," 6.
(14.) Waterson, 12.
(15.) Couser, Memoir, 19.
(16.) Trost, "Using Personal Narratives."
(17.) Schachter, quoted in Smith and Watson, Reading Autobiography, 22.
(18.) Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 2003).
(19.) Frank H. Wu, Yellow: Race in America beyond Black and White. (New York: Basic Books, 2002).
(20.) Ronald Takaki, A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (New York: Back Bay Books, 2008) 4. The phrase "Master Narrative of American History" is capitalized, following Takaki.
(21.) J. Q. Adams and Janice R. Welsch, "Multiculturalism: The Manifest Destiny of the U.S.A.: An Interview with Ronald Takaki," Multicultural Perspectives 11, no. 4 (2009): 228.
(22.) In fact, Filipino sailors arrived in Morro Bay, California, aboard Spanish ships as early as the late sixteenth century and were also recorded in Louisiana in the 1760s. As seen in Loni Ding's seminal documentary Ancestors in the Americas (part 1), some Filipino sailors left their ships and intermarried with locals in the Louisiana bayous. See http://www.pbs.org/ancestorsintheamericas/programl_l.html; and Santa Maria Times, November 6, 2016, http://sanlamariatimes.comAifestyles/columnist/shirley_contreras/ marking-filipino-american-history-on-central-coast/ article_d9931elc-5b93-5bee-a7dc-24ee4e0c3f85.html. It is likely that some of those Filipino sailors were ethnically Chinese, given the large population of Chinese in the Philippines at that time. See Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, K. Scott Wong, and Jason Oliver Chang, eds., Asian America: A Primary Source Reader (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2017), introduction.
(23.) Scott D. Seligman, The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Presse 2013), 90.
(24.) Bethany R. Berger, "Birthright Citizenship on Trial: Elk v. Wilkins and United States v. Wong Kim Ark," Cardozo Law Review 37, no. 4 (April 2016): 1227.
(25.) Berger notes there is some discrepancy on his actual birth year.
(26.) Berger, "Birthright Citizenship on Trial," 1229.
(27.) Berger, 1192.
(28.) Berger, 1246.
(29.) Berger, 1226.
(30.) Sandra Wong is interviewed in the film 14 Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark and Vanessa Lopez (Anne Galisky, 2014).
(31.) Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Thousand Pieces of Gold: A Biographical Novel (Boston: Beacon Press, 1981).
(32.) Other stories of Chinese from the nineteenth century include Ruthanne Lum McCunn's Chinese Yankee about Ah Yee Way, who became known in America as Thomas Sylvanus and fought in the American Civil War on the Union side. Another individual story worthy of its own study is Ah Louis, who became known as "the Chinese Mayor" of San Luis Obispo.
(33.) Takaki, A Different Mirror, 402.
(34.) Takaki, 402.
(35.) Eddie Huang, Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013). Huang has recently penned a new memoir, about his love life and traveling to Taiwan and China to reconnect with his heritage: Double Cup Love: On the Trail of Family, Food and Broken Hearts in China (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2017).
(36.) Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts (New York: Knopf, 1976).
(37.) Kingston, 111.
(38.) Among the criticism leveled at Huang, the most convincing has been accusations of misogyny and sexism, and accusations of his appropriation of African American culture. For example, see http://www.dilettantear-my.com/rants/huangs-web.
(39.) Huang, Fresh Off the Boat, 110.
(40.) Huang, 57.
(41.) Huang is known to most Americans as a celebrity chef and host of a VICE TV show. Furthermore, he sold his story to become the eponymously named hit TV show. He has gone on record in several interviews as regretting that decision as he feels the network subsequently has "sanitized" his life and turned it into a "cornstarch sitcom." See Vulture, January 2015, "Bamboo-Ceiling TV" http://www.vulture.com/2015/01/eddie-huang-fresh-off-the-boat-abc.html.
(42.) Tri Lam, Lam Chi Phat: The Chronicle of an Overseas Chinese Family (Montreal: Urn Books, 2001), 11.
(43.) um, 111. Viet Thanh Nguyen has coined the term "oceanic refugees" as preferable to "boat people," which is dehumanizing.
(44.) Lisa See, On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese American Family (New York: Vintage, 1996).
(45.) My assignment for using memoirs was inspired by Jennifer Trost, "Using Personal Narratives to Teach a Global Perspective," History Teacher 42, no. 2 (February 2009): 177-89; and Ward Keeler, "Teaching Southeast Asia through Fiction and Memoirs," Anthropology Today 24, no. 6 (December 2008): 16-19.
(46.) Huang, Fresh Off the Boat, 198.
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|Author:||Bodemer, Margaret B.|
|Publication:||Chinese America: History and Perspectives|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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