Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America
Publication Year: 2001
Published by: Temple University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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As an admirer of his work for many years, I had the opportunity at last to meet Bill Wong at a 1997 conference organized by Professor Ling-chi Wang of the University of California at Berkeley held at the Miyako Hotel in San Francisco’s Japan town. The gathering had been called to ponder the implications of the so-called campaign finance scandal, which involved...
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In addition to the individuals I name in the introduction as being influential on my writing career—high school teachers Blanche Hurd and George Stokes, editor Bob Maynard and his wife, Nancy Hicks, and editor Roy Aarons; editors Richard Springer and Patrick Andersen; publishers Gordon Lew and John Fang—many people have helped me, in one way...
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In 1948, when I was 7 years old, my family moved from our crowded rented house in Oakland’s Chinatown to a spacious five-bedroom split-level house in a predominantly white neighborhood less than two miles away. I was still too young to be of significant help at my parents’ restaurant, so I stayed home more than my older sisters, who were practically held hostage...
1: Hometown: In the Shadow of San Francisco
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Walking along the west side of Webster Street between 7th and 8thStreets in Oakland’s Chinatown, it’s easy to miss the storefront in the middle of the block. Other stores catch your eye: the ones selling produce and fruits in boxes that bulge onto the sidewalk, another displaying roast ducks, chickens, and glistening maroon-colored strips of oven-...
2: Family: From Agrarianism to Cyberspace
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As I wander through Goon Doo Hong, a remote southeastern Chinese village where my father was born and where my mother gave birth to two of my sisters, I am overwhelmed by what I see, what I remember of my family’s history, and what I imagine life was like here for my parents when they were young. It is like Shangri-la, a pristine place untouched by time....
3: History: From Exclusion to Confusion
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Angel Island, a state park just across Raccoon Strait from Tiburon, pulsates with history beneath its natural beauty in San Francisco Bay. The immigration station at Point Simpton on the island’s northeast corner once was a federal enforcement center for the Chinese Exclusion Act of1882, the only piece of federal legislation targeting a specific ethnic group....
4: Immigration: Huddled Masses
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The smuggling of Chinese nationals into the United States is a complicated story that embraces economic inequities across the Pacific Ocean, sophisticated criminality, American xenophobia, and confusion and anguish in Chinese American communities. One shouldn’t blame the thousands who’ve endured appalling and unspeakable conditions in their...
5: Identity and Acculturation: Visibly Invisible
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Let’s see. There’s California and Hawaii and New York and Illinois and Texas and Florida and Washington—states with significant Asian American populations. But where is Asian America? In what state of the fifty that comprise the United States of America does Asian America reside? Skeptics who say nowhere have persuasive evidence to support their...
6: Anti-Asian Racism: Forever Foreigners
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Nine months ago, Patrick Edward Purdy went to Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, and opened fire at a school yard filled with children and teachers. California Attorney General John Van de Kamp has issued a report on the shooting and possibly why it occurred. The report has generated additional heat in this much-discussed case....
7: Class: Yin and Yang
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During the Congressional debate over welfare reform in 1996, a new villainous image emerged to supplement that of the old welfare queen. This image was of an elderly Chinese immigrant undeservedly getting Supple-mental Security Income (SSI). The foreign-looking senior instead should be supported by his or her middle-class children, not by the U.S. Treasury,...
8: Affirmative Action: The Myth of Meritocracy
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Are Asian Americans part of affirmative action programs? Should Asian Americans be part of affirmative action programs? Those questions, and more, were indirectly raised by an agreement between the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school and the federal government over the school’s controversial admissions policies from 1988 to 1990. The U.S. Education Department’s Office of...
9: Gender: He Said, She Said
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Here is the status of racial-sexual politics as it relates to Asian Americans and white Americans, according to one theorist:• Some white men covet Asian women because they (the men) can’t deal with strong, independent white women.• Some Asian women prefer white men because they (the women) can’t stand the more sexist Asian men. • Some white women feel rejected by white men who covet Asian...
10: Race Relations: Why Can’t We All Get Along?
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From the glitz of Park Avenue, on the east side of Manhattan, to the low-rise earthiness of Church Avenue in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, two different worlds are joined by a thirty-five-minute subway ride. That’s how long it took me on a Saturday morning in late August. In a prosaic way, I was on a pilgrimage—in search of the best-known battleground in a frustrating and protracted dispute between two racial...
11: Politics: A Seat at the Table
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Michael Woo strides confidently, with a smile, into the second-floor dining room of the Silver Dragon restaurant in Oakland’s Chinatown. Gathered around in clusters, some sitting, some standing, are about eighty men and women, most of them ethnic Chinese, most of them middle-aged or older. Woo, a slender, energetic 40-year-old, seems out of place. But he isn’t....
12: Crime: Bang, Bang, You’re Dead
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On a recent morning, I was sitting next to Samantha Vong and Lap Neou on a stage at the Federal Building auditorium in downtown Oakland. Ast hey spoke at an Asian youth conference, I felt as though we lived in two different worlds, despite the fact we are all East Bay residents. Our worlds are far apart in terms of age, ethnicity, education, experi-...
13: Stars: I AM Somebody
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The controversy over the casting of the male lead of Miss Saigon is deliciously chewy. It embraces so many issues that intersect and polarize a society that’s grappling with the realities of multiculturalism. Asian Americans have been at the intense center of this raging theatrical debate. Its lessons, however, go far beyond Broadway. It has dis-gorged a multilayered debate—over the politicization of art, affirmative...
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...“American Dream, Chinatown Branch” was originally published as “Chinatown, My Chi-“A ‘Manong’ with Magical Hands” was originally published as “Barber George Catambay:From Hair to Eternity” in Filipinas, October 1998, pp. 60–63. Reprinted with permission“Traditions: Old and New” was originally published under Bill Wong’s byline in Asian Week,“‘Rock On, Mr. President’” was originally published as “Rock on, Mr. President” in San...
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Publication Year: 2001