Immigration: Chinese Americans

IMG_7265New York Historical Society is exhibiting the Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion (September 26, 2014 – April 19, 2015) Here are many individual stories. The weather was great, we took a walk in the Central Park. At the end of the exhibit, on a narrow hallway wall, it compiled this profile of Chinese New Yorkers. More pix on FB.

There was a man who was giving a tour. At one point, he asked if any one is watching FOB – Fresh of the Boat, the Chinese sitcom on ABC. Only a skeleton of hands went up, which reminded me of Amy Chua, the Tiger Mom 虎妈. Within the Chinese immigrants, there are gaps, or groups that don’t really socialize or see eye to eye or mingle.

The earliest Chinese came to America was the railroad labors from the coastal areas of China, mainly Guangzhou Province, (Eng Association) in the 19th century. Early 20th century, students from inland came to US to study, mostly sent by the government or paid for by the foundations in USA. 1957 two Chinese Americans won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests prompted the formation of Committee of 100. I still remembered New York Times’ Fox Butterfield in his Building a Voice for Chinese in the U.S. (1991.06.22), invoked a sentiment of Asian Week on the Committee: “a high school student without a date, all dressed up with no place to go.”

Second half of 20th century, toward end, most students came to USA on their own, included if not started by (all my school mates) the generation born in the early 1960s.

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A timeline shows the Chinese Americans have been making a stride (work in progress):

  • 1820, railroad labor, wikiCPRR,
  • 1854, Yung Wing 容閎 (Rong Hong; 1828-1912) graduated from Yale; an under grade, the first Chinese studying aboard.
  • 1882, Exclusion Act of 1882
  • 1896, Li Hongzhang lobbied for better treatment of Chinese while visiting NYC
  • 1930?, Liu Zhendong (刘震东 1906?-1984?); Qinghua to University of Missouri
  • 1925?, Wu Shiwei (Swain/吴士蔚; 1903-1989); College of William and Mary
  • 1928? Wang Jigao  (Chi Kao/王季高; 1905-1997); Qinghua to Colombia Uni
  • 1935, James Eng (19 -) born in NYC, my fathe-in-law
  • 1944, Zhou Yiliang (1913-2001) graduated from Harvard, PhD, my mom’s cousin;
  • 1957, Nobel Prize in Physics, Chen-Ning Yang (Yang Zhenning; 1922-)/ Tsung-Dao Lee 李政道 (Lǐ Zhèngdào;1926-)
  • 1962, James Eng married Dora Tam (19) of Hong Kong, my mother-in-law
  • image1980, only Asian boy in the GNS graduating class (a couple of Asian girls; he skipped a grade)
  • 1984, Louvre Pyramid (complete in 1989) by I M Pei (1917- )
  • 1989, A Magazine (closed in 2001) by Jeff Yang (1967-)
  • 1990, Committee of 100Henry S. Tang
  • 2011, our children’s graduating classes at GNS 2011 & 2012 – over 50% was Asian

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A few other facts:

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