In New York, Seattle and San Francisco, where businesses and restaurants have suffered for months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinatown is marking a year since it first started feeling the effects of the global outbreak.
In the early days on the pandemic, as fear grew that the virus first reported in China would spread to the United States, growing anti-Chinese sentiment caused people to avoid the district, causing harm to the communities’ economies even before the first American case of COVID-19 was confirmed.
The impact worsened as President Trump continuously branded COVID-19 the ‘China plague’.
Asian American small businesses have been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn during the pandemic.
While there was a 22 percent decline in all small business-owner activity nationwide from February to April, Asian American business-owner activity dropped by 26 percent, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
A year on, as the Chinese New Year on February 12 approaches, the normal 16-day celebrations are being abandoned for online events and the oldest Chinatown districts in San Francisco, New York and Seattle remain ghost towns.
Despite the younger generations coming to the communities’ aid, the promise of a faster vaccine rollout, and the aid of donations and loans, Chinatown businesses are still daunted by the uphill battling facing them in surviving 2021.
Source: Daily Mail
When one thinks of the transcontinental railroad, rarely do Chinese migrants come to mind. But in a new exhibition at the National Museum of American History in Washington, a vital revision is presented.
Until spring 2020, Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad peels back the layers to see who else should be commemorated during the recent 150th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion – an achievement which has typically been celebrated with photos of old locomotives, successful-looking men in suits and anonymous workers hammering away.
But this exhibition takes a different tack, tracing the forgotten Chinese workers who built the western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad in 1869.
“Historians have always known and written about the Chinese workers, but it’s forgotten by society,” said Peter Liebhold, who co-curated the exhibit with Sam Vong. “We’ve forgotten the contribution of these workers, and in fact, we forget the contribution of all workers. We tend to focus on the achievement of the few and not the stories of the average everyday person.”
Ittells the story of Chinese workers through old maps, detailing where they worked, their labor materials – from conical hats to miner’s picks – and photos, showing the tents they lived in, their working conditions and their nomadic lifestyle.
“The artifacts on view are meant to help visitors understand how forgotten workers had to endure hazardous, unfair conditions, in addition to backbreaking labor,” said Leibhold. “The 150th anniversary is not just about completing a railroad, but the workers involved.”
From 1863 and 1869, roughly 15,000 Chinese workers helped build the transcontinental railroad. They were paid less than American workers and lived in tents, while white workers were given accommodation in train cars.
Chinese workers made up most of the workforce between roughly 700 miles of train tracks between Sacramento, California, and Promontory, Utah. During the 19th century, more than 2.5 million Chinese citizens left their country and were hired in 1864 after a labor shortage threatened the railroad’s completion.
The work was tiresome, as the railroad was built entirely by manual laborers who used to shovel 20 pounds of rock over 400 times a day. They had to face dangerous work conditions – accidental explosions, snow and rock avalanches, which killed hundreds of workers, not to mention frigid weather.
“All workers on the railroad were ‘other’,” said Liebhold. “On the west, there were Chinese workers, out east were Irish and Mormon workers were in the center. All these groups are outside the classical American mainstream.”
The exhibition features a century-old pair of chopsticks, as well as canisters for tea and soy sauce. The railroad company provided room and board to white workers, but Chinese workers had to find their own meals, which were often brought to them from local merchants.
There are also miner’s picks and shovels, conical hats, as well as photos of the camp sites where the workers lived in Nevada in 1869. There are photos, as well, of the Native Americans, many of whom protested against the building of the railway in 1869, which displaced the Lakota, Shoshone, Cheyenne and other communities.
The Chinese workers were educated and organized; 3,000 laborers went on strike in 1867 to demand equal wages, as the white workers were paid double.
“They were unsuccessful because they were out in the middle of nowhere,” said Liebhold. “The railroad stopped them from getting food. That’s one way it failed.”
One telling photo on view is a shot of the Union Pacific board members sitting in a business class train car from 1869. By paying laborers a low wage, they were able to skim millions from the construction and get rich.
“Building railroads is often profitable but operating them isn’t necessarily, if you look at the history of railroads in the US,” said Liebhold. “To totally condemn the businessmen is challenging because they took huge risks raising money to build a railroad that was astronomically difficult. Many people didn’t think it was possible.”
There is one photo from 1869 that shows how the company commemorated the last hammered spike to complete the railroad, however, only one Chinese worker is in the photo. Many of the actual workers were left out.
This story could still be one which resonates with today’s America. “There’s no question this is a story about migrant labor,” he said. “Chinese workers were not citizens, weren’t allowed to become citizens. From the 1850s to 1882, they were tolerated in the US, but not accepted as peers.
“Then, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred immigrants from coming into US, unless you were a diplomat or a businessperson,” said Liebhold. “You’re always welcome if you’re affluent, then you’re allowed to come in.”
Source: The Guardian
For years after the three-week stretch that made him an international phenomenon, Jeremy Lin went out of his way to avoid saying “Linsanity.”
The word, which he trademarked in 2012 to prevent strangers from profiting off his image, carried too much trauma. It had been coined by Knicks fans to describe their excitement for an unheralded reserve who blossomed — seemingly overnight — into a franchise hero, but it took on a less complimentary meaning when Lin failed to recapture the greatness he exhibited during those 18 days in February.
As Lin ping-ponged among six franchises in seven years before heading to China in August 2019 when no NBA team signed him in free agency, he came to view Linsanity as a painful reminder of his unfulfilled promise. His legacy was seemingly distilled to less than a month’s worth of games when he couldn’t do enough to be remembered for more.
But over the past year, therapy sessions and a memorable season in his maternal grandmother’s home country helped Lin come to terms with his place in basketball history. His recent decision to forgo a seven-figure contract in China and sign with Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, for less than the average elementary school teacher’s salary was rooted in little more than a desire to prove to himself that he still belongs in the NBA.
As one of the faces of the Chinese Basketball Association, Lin lived in a penthouse apartment in downtown Beijing, rode to practices in the backseat of a luxury sedan and often navigated throngs of autograph-seekers to reach the hotel elevator. Now, nine years removed from his last G League game, he is back in a level he remembers best for the time he and his Erie BayHawks teammates ate saltine crackers all day before a game in Portland, Maine, because the team bus had broken down during a snowstorm.
“In China, I had so much fan support and so many amazing things going on,” said Lin, who paced the Beijing Ducks last season in scoring (22.3 points per game), assists (5.6 per game) and steals (1.8 per game). “To surrender all of that and to come here, honestly, some people think I’m crazy.”
After his Ducks were beaten in the CBA’s semifinals in early August, Lin returned to his parents’ house in Palo Alto. Each morning, around 4 or 5, he awoke as questions about his future raced through his mind: Would he be comfortable finishing his career in front of adoring fans in China? Would he always have a gnawing regret that he hadn’t given the NBA another shot?
Lin had heard from his agent that NBA teams weren’t impressed by gaudy stats against inferior competition in the CBA. His quickest route back to the sport’s top level would be through the G League, from where 35 players were called up to the NBA last season.
At age 32, Lin recognizes that he can’t afford to waste time. His hope is that, after a dozen or so games with Santa Cruz at the Orlando bubble, he’ll land an NBA contract and show that he should never have had to leave the league in the first place.
That is important personal growth, but he isn’t content stopping there. Instead of returning to China, where he could revel in being one of the biggest celebrities in a basketball-crazed country of nearly 1.4 billion people, Lin figures he owes it to himself and his fans to see whether he can author another inspirational story.
Source: SF Chronicle
A woman shopping in Orange County, California has become the latest target of anti-Asian racism amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The incident, which was caught on video, reportedly occurred outside a Sephora store at The Market Place in Tustin and Irvine.
The man has since reportedly been identified as Brian Kranz, a fitness instructor in Irvine, California who runs Red Fitness. His female partner—who is seen smirking throughout the incident and even smugly taunts the victim with a “bye”—has been identified as Janelle Hinshaw.
The Asian woman reportedly recalled how the incident started inside the store after the staff asked the pair to wear face masks.
“These people were standing after me in the line at Sephora. They didn’t have masks on before the staff requested so. But then [they] refused to keep social distancing from me. Sephora staff was doing a good job directing me to stand in another line,” a Nextdoor user, who claims to be the woman behind the camera, wrote.
The woman eventually finished shopping and returned to her car. That’s when Kranz followed and began making racist remarks.
“Why don’t you stay at home? Are you that dumb? You want to photograph me?” he says before charging toward the woman, who then retreats in her car.
“Exactly! Get in your car, stupid g**k. Go back to f**king [unintelligible].”
Brian Kranz returns to his Jeep and continues his tirade before driving away.
“Are you really that stupid? You know that recording doesn’t do anything,” he tells the woman. “Stay home. And thanks for giving my country COVID. Have a great day.”
Kranz is a trainer licensed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), and many on social media called for his license to be revoked. Many also tagged Hinshaw’s current masters’ program at Azusa Pacific University to revoke her license as a psychologist working with teens.
Given both Kranz and Hinshaw’s work requires working with the public at large, it was of concern to many how they would treat their clients of Asian descent.
The backlash has been immense. After reportedly deactivating their LinkedIn and Instagram pages, they faced backlash on other platforms.
Chinese-Canadian NCAA division one basketball prospect Ben Li has received all the Asian-related racist jibes under the sun.
“I’ve heard all the names right when I step onto the court. From the players it’d be all comparisons to any Asian thing – soy sauce, Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, small eyes. Like I’d be shooting free throws and another team would be standing right there saying ‘can you even see the rim?’ and all that,” the 19-year-old Lehigh University, Pennsylvania first-year said.
Born in Toronto to native Chinese parents, Li defied the odds, stereotypes and stigma to make history as the first ethnic-Chinese player to make the All-Canadian game last year. It is but only the beginning of the forward’s mission to reach the NBA and the Chinese national team.
Already touted as the “Chinese Zion Williamson” by adoring media, Li hoped his unconventionally large physical presence on the court would help rid the arena of any prejudices. Otherwise he will have to take into his own hands.
“It’s definitely annoying but over time, their words didn’t matter to me. Most of the time they were trash-talking and all that, they were usually down. So any time they’d say anything, most of the time I don’t say anything back and just point at the scoreboard,” said Li, all 1.98m, 105kg of him.
“It’s actually pretty fun to get to prove people wrong or when they expect me to not really do anything. Then I showcase my game. Sometimes they start talking trash and I’d get my stuff going and dominate the game. That’s pretty fun sometimes.”
Li regularly seeks advice – be it basketball or identity related, or both – from hero-turned-friend Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American who famously graced the NBA with the “Linsanity” era of 2012. That he is now exchanging texts with the man he watched on TV is another “pinch me” moment in his fledgling career so far.
“I definitely want to shout out Jeremy Lin,” said Li, who he featured alongside on a Chinese basketball TV show in 2019.
“This year, he gave me his number and offered me an outlet to ask questions if I’m struggling or need any advice. I look up to him like a bigger bro. That’s kind of surreal to me because he was my role model.”
“When I first met him, I told him I was just trying to get scholarships and play division one basketball so my parents wouldn’t need to pay a cent for me at university. I think that’s where it kicked off because he could relate to me and had to go through a lot of things. He’s even been kind enough to offer to get a workout in together. That’s surreal. That person you watched, that got you into the sport I’m in now. Now I can just to talk to him. It’s just crazy.”
No racial slur is justifiable, but the ignorance may be partly to do with the lack of Asian faces in the game. That applies throughout all age groups, from little leagues to the NBA, where you could count the number of Asian players on your fingers.
Li’s athletic talent had grown to the point that he would need to head south from his native Canada. The path to a division one scholarship offer was meticulously planned and it was only a matter of time before calls came flooding in.
“I had to do what was best for me and expose myself to more schools and coaches. When I got to Virginia, my coach started calling schools in to come watch. Over time, my stock grew and my coach even told me that people were calling asking ‘is the big Asian guy still available? Can I come watch him work out?’” he said.
“I do this for the younger generation looking for knowledge from anyone in my situation. They’ll read this as the next Asian guy who wants to play division one basketball. My goal on top of playing in the NBA and the national team is to inspire the next generation of Asians to break out of their comfort zones.”
“I feel like there’s a stigma that we’re less than other people in a sport just because of the colour of our skin – and I think that’s kind of bulls***. If you just put in the work and screw what other people think, you can go wherever you want to go in your sport. I don’t want other people thinking they can’t get past something if they’re Asian.”
Source: South China Morning Post
A foreign student studying abroad in Singapore faced massive backlash this past weekend after a photograph that she posted on Instagram for Chinese New Year earlier in 2020 went viral for all the wrong reasons.
The student, Louise, has since issued an apology on her now-private Instagram account, and Essec Business School, where she studies, has said that they are “looking into the situation”.
On Friday (Dec. 4), Instagram user @beforeik.o posted a screenshot of an Instagram story she had made of Louise’s post, which showed the French student pulling back her eyes with her fingers into a slit shape while wearing a cheongsam.
@beforeik.o’s Instagram post also included a screenshot of another photo posted by Louise for Chinese New Year, which included the words “ching chong” in the caption.
A person also commented, “So chong!! So coronavirus!!”
In her Instagram post, @beforeik.o also shared several screenshots of direct messages (DMs) in which Louise claimed that she was “clearly not racist” and that the photo was “just for fun”.
Louise pointed to the fact that Chinese people may get surgery on their eyes to have more “European” features, and asked whether that would be considered racism.
@beforeik.o replied that Louise should educate herself, remove the post, and apologise “before this whole thing blows up”.
Louise, however, doubled down and claimed to have a master’s degree, as well as a diploma from Harvard University about ethnicity in the workplace.
On Saturday (Dec. 5), the official Instagram page of Essec Business School commented on @beforeik.o’s Instagram post, writing that they are “looking into the situation and will take appropriate action”.
On Tuesday, New Yorkers commuting through the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway station will find it transformed with vibrant portraits of Black, Asian and Pacific Islander people along with anti-discriminatory messages like “I did not make you sick” and “I am not your scapegoat.”
The series is the work of the neuroscientist turned artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (pronounced PING-bodee-bak-ee-ah). In August, Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya was named a New York City Public Artist in Residence through a program that has partnered artists with city agencies since 2015. She is one of two artists currently embedded with the city’s Commission on Human Rights, which invested $220,000 in this campaign.
Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Still Believe in Our City” series was created as a response to a grim statistic. From February to September, the Commission received more than 566 reports of discrimination, harassment and bias related to Covid-19 — 184 of which were anti-Asian in nature. It’s a troubling spike not just appearing in New York, but in Asian-American communities across the country.
“My goal with this art series was to turn these hurts into something beautiful and powerful,” Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said in a phone interview. She added, “I really wanted to find a way to say, despite everything we have faced as Asian-Americans and New Yorkers, that I still believe in New York.”
From Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, the series of 45 pieces will be displayed in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, a central hub that serves a diverse group of commuting New Yorkers. Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said that it was also the site of a reported, Covid-related bias incident in March, when a 26-year-old Asian-American man reported he was spat on.
A description of that incident has been included in one of the pieces, alongside portraits of Asians and flowers that Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said have symbolic meanings in Chinese and East Asian cultures. Other panels offer information and historical context about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and statistics about Asian-owned businesses.
Source: NY Times
While music festivals remain a distant memory in most parts of the world, a full-scale Ultra Music Festival event went on in Taiwan on Saturday, November 14th. The event, which took place at Dajie Riverside Park in Taipei, was billed as a part of Road to Ultra, the long-running series of one-day festival events in cities around the world created and founded by the team behind the famous Miami electronic dance music festival.
The Ultra event in Taiwan was headlined by Swedish progressive house maestro Alesso and featured performances by LA-based duo Slander, Israeli production pair Vini Vici, and America DJ Kayzo as well as regional supporting acts Junior, RayRay, and Pei Pei. It welcomed crowds of thousands to enjoy a full music festival experience complete with lavish stage production, pyrotechnics, and fireworks in addition to live painting demonstrations, global street food, and a graphic art wall created by Taiwanese designers. The event was streamed live online to a global audience.
The successful festival serves as a big win for the Ultra organizers, whose Covid-imposed cancellation of Ultra’s flagship Miami event in early March was among the first in a cascade of cancellations that saw much of the global live music industry to screech to a halt over the ensuing weeks.
As the United States struggles with its nastiest spike to date and the prospect of a full-blown music festival remains entirely out of the question, Taiwan has had immense success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. As of the end of October, the East Asian country had gone 200 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 case.
Source: Live For Live Music
Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been deflecting criticism of his handling of COVID-19 by blaming China.
But the relentless linking of the pandemic to China has had negative consequences for Asian Americans, including CNN correspondent Amara Walker.
She recently described experiencing three anti-Asian racist incidents within an hour while traveling through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
Following these events, Walker described what happened in a lengthy Twitter thread.
The journalist confronted the man about his actions earlier, but he denied the incident and walked away.
Minutes after her first encounter, while Walker was explaining to her producer what happened, a young man without a mask approached them and asked her if she spoke English.
The unnamed man mumbled incoherently and allegedly started throwing obscenities at Walker. At this point, her producer and the other people nearby demanded the man to leave her alone.
Walker’s producer called airport security, but the officer who arrived angrily denied that what the young man did was racist.
“That was not racist! Ok? Asking if she speaks English is not racist, ok? Do you understand me?” the officer allegedly said.
“Asian Americans across the country deal with this on a regular basis and we’re not talking about it,” she said. “Many Asian Americans don’t raise our voices, including myself. I’ve probably wouldn’t have written about this if this wasn’t so egregious.”