Santa Ana To Formally Apologize For Burning Down Its Chinatown In 1906, Past Anti-Chinese Racism

Within days, a small white tent stood alone near the washed out ashes of Santa Ana’s Chinatown in 1906 with a cautionary sign: “leprosy: keep out.”

An ailing Wong Woh Ye lay inside the tent in quarantine.

The day before the fire, his documented case of the disease, which was later disputed, prompted an emergency meeting of the Santa Ana City Council on the morning of May 25, 1906. Acting on a resolution drafted by the city’s Board of Health, council members unanimously moved to condemn Chinatown’s remaining buildings and directed the fire marshal to burn it all to the ground.

As word spread, more than 1,000 residents gathered in downtown later that night to watch the fiery finale of a years-long campaign against Santa Ana’s Chinese residents in the wake of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Los Angeles Times deemed the blaze “as picturesque an event as could be imagined.”

But now, more than a century later, it’s seen as a shameful chapter in the city’s history — one that Santa Ana’s current council is moving to officially apologize for.

“We just want to do what’s right and recognize past wrongs,” said Thai Viet Phan, Santa Ana’s first ever Vietnamese American councilwoman. “I felt it was really important to me as someone who is trying to do my best to revitalize our Asian American heritage in the city.”

In a joint effort, Councilman Johnathan Ryan Hernandez, Planning Commissioner Alan Woo, Assistant City Manager Steven Mendoza and Councilwoman Phan worked on the draft apology.

It offers a formal atonement to “all Chinese immigrants and their descendants who came to Santa Ana and were the victims of systemic and institutional racism, xenophobia and discrimination.”

The resolution is also unequivocal in naming the past city officials responsible as well as deeming the burning of Chinatown as an act of “fundamental injustice, terror, cruelty and brutality.”

It served as the culmination of an effort to rid the area of Chinese residents that intensified when the city bought a lot in 1904 that abutted the enclave as the site of a new city hall.

By 1910, only one Chinese resident remained in Santa Ana according to census records; about 200 Chinese residents had once called Chinatown home during its peak in the 1890s.

Fred Lau, the late proprietor of Santa Ana Food Market, was one of the first Chinese Americans to return to Santa Ana during the 1940s. He opened his grocery store in 1949.

“The Lau family gave a lot of us our first jobs in Santa Ana when we were teenagers,” Hernandez said. “They had close relationships with my family.”

Santa Ana Food Market, which is still in business today, is where the councilman recalled first learning of the burning down of Chinatown from its owners.

With that history in mind, Hernandez began working with Woo, his Planning Commission appointee, on ways to redress the injustice when Phan had received an email earlier this year from a resident about recent Chinatown arson apologies elsewhere, including San Jose.

Woo felt a Santa Ana apology as timely as ever.

“There’s a wave of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate that has been fueled over the last two years,” he said. “It was important to ask for this, not just for me, but on behalf of the Chinese community because often we’re not viewed as citizens. We are treated as foreigners rather than citizens.”

An annual report by the Orange County Human Relations Commission charted a dramatic 1,800% increase in anti-Asian American hate incidents in 2020, which was the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the apology, there have also been efforts to commemorate the history with an on-site memorial.

During an October 2020 Downtown Inc. board meeting, a consultant briefly mentioned how an architect and urban planner were working with local historian Dylan Almendral and Chinese American groups on such a project.

“It was certainly a step in the right direction,” Hernandez said.

Taking the lead, supportive council members want to allocate funding from the city’s budget for a future memorial.

But the apology is slated to come first.

During the Santa Ana City Council meeting on May 3, council members directed staff to prepare the resolution to come back before a vote — and soon.

Phan insisted that the vote happen in May, which is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month; earlier in the meeting, both she and Hernandez presented a proclamation to the Lau family in recognition of the month.

The councilwoman also suggested that, if passed, there be a ceremonial signing of the resolution at the parking lot on Third and Bush Street, the site where Chinatown once stood.

Councilman David Peñaloza offered support for the apology and a ceremonial signing.

“It’s a sad, sad chapter in this city’s history,” he said. “We need to recognize the mistake that was made by previous leadership here.”

The burning down of Chinatown wasn’t the last time disease provided cover for discrimination in Santa Ana.

Dr. John I. Clark, the city’s health officer, had inspected the enclave and later cautioned residents from buying produce there out of concerns for leprosy; he would also advise the Santa Ana Board of Education to segregate white and Mexican students during the 1918 pandemic.

Less than two weeks after the Chinatown blaze, Ye was found dead inside his quarantine tent.

Before that, Councilman John Cubbon resigned from his post on May 28, 1906. The Times reported that he voted to authorize the burning down of Chinatown only after “considerable wrangling” and though there wasn’t an official explanation given, “reliable sources” placed that decision as the reason for his sudden resignation.

For Woo, the current council’s discussion this week marked a significant step toward making amends long overdue.

“The people’s democracy was used against Chinese Americans,” he said. “That deserves an apology. The lives of over 200 Chinese immigrants were affected by that decision.”

Source: LA Times

Mexico’s Secret Chinese Underworld 🇲🇽 Mexicali, Mexico

Mexicali, Mexico – This is the capital of Baja California, Mexicali, and it has such a unique history to the fabric of Mexico, Gareth Leonard had to add this place as the last stop on his first Northern Baja road trip. Between the mid-1800s and the 1940s, Mexicali, became Mexico’s largest Chinatown.

By 1920, Mexicali’s Chinese population outnumbered the Mexican population 10,000 to 700, and yet, many people still didn’t even realize how many were here.

We meet up with our local guide Diego, to get the full story.

Now here’s the most interesting part for Gareth about La Chinesca.

Just beneath the surface of central old town, in the neighborhood of La Chinesca, there’s a labyrinth of basements and tunnels that once were home to an entire population of Chinese immigrants. During Prohibition in the United States, La Chinesca in Mexicali housed just about all of the city’s casinos and bars, and established a tunnel system to connect bordellos and opium dens to neighboring Calexico on the U.S. side.

Along with being a passageway for bootleggers into the United States, this underground world was also where Chinese people would live here in Mexicali.

Male Model Tyson Beckford: Kids Teased Me, Called Me “Mr. Chin” For My Chinese Eyes

Tyson Beckford came through for his first-ever VladTV interview, and he and Vlad started off reminiscing about their time living in New Jersey, where they were neighbors. From there, Tyson spoke about growing up in Jamaica until he was 7, and then his family moved back to the Bronx. He explained that he was teased for his Jamaican accent when he first moved back, and Tyson added that kids would call him “Mr. Chin” because of his eyes. To hear more, including how the teasing made him tougher, hit the above clip.

Mexico’s President Apologizes For The 1911 Massacre That Killed Over 300 Chinese People

Mexico’s president made a public apology on Monday for the killing of over 300 Chinese people by the revolutionary forces of Francisco I. Madero in the city of Torreón over a century ago.

Gruesome history: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he wants to ensure the 1911 massacre, in which Chinese nationals were mutilated or hung from telegraph poles, “never, ever happens again,” reported the Associated Press

  • Obrador said the discrimination was based on the “most vile and offensive stereotypes,” adding “these stupid ideas were transferred to Mexico, where extermination was added to exclusion and mistreatment.”
  • His apology was part of Obrador’s efforts to atone for the past mistreatment of Indigenous and minority people in Mexico. 
  • “We will never forget the brotherhood of the Chinese during the bitter and anguishing months of the pandemic,” he added.
  • Chinese Ambassador Zhu Qingqiao was present during Obrador’s apology ceremony.

Hate born of envy: The racial killings of 303 Chinese men, women and children happened after revolutionary troops overran Torreón in 1911, during the early parts of the Mexican Revolution.

  • The victims were descendants of Chinese laborers who migrated to Mexico in the 1800s to work on the expansion of the nation’s rail network, setting up businesses, farms and other establishments.
  • During this period, some Mexican people reportedly grew envious of the success of some Chinese immigrants, with others blaming them for taking jobs or depressing wage rates in Torreón.
  • When revolutionary troops took over the city from May 13-15 in 1911, they killed many of the Chinese people living there. Some managed to survive by hiding or were rescued by local residents.
  • Following the massacre, the Chinese government demanded an apology and indemnity of 12 million pesos ($605,000) from Mexico.
  • Reparations for the killings were promised for the massacre following the success of the revolutionary government but no payment was ever made.

Source: NextShark

Charts That Dismantle The Trope Of Asian Americans As The ‘Model Minority’

“Smart.” “Hard-working.” “Nice.” Those were among the adjectives that respondents offered up in a recent poll when asked to describe Asian Americans.

The poll, conducted by the nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH), was another all-too-familiar reminder that Asian Americans are still perceived as the “model minority.”

Since the end of World War II, this myth about Asian Americans and their perceived collective success has been used as a racial wedge — to minimize the role racism plays in the struggles of other minority groups, such as Black Americans.

Characterizing Asian Americans as a model minority flattens the diverse experiences of Asian Americans into a singular, narrow narrative. And it paints a misleading picture about the community that doesn’t align with current statistics.

Here’s a look at some common misconceptions driven by the model minority myth.

Myth: Asian Americans are a single monolithic group

Currently, more than 22 million people of Asian descent live in the U.S., making up approximately 7% of the nation’s population. They trace their heritage to different regions around the world, with people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent making up the largest shares, though no group makes up a majority. More than 1.5 million Pacific Islanders, who descend from Micronesia, Melanesia or Polynesia, live in the U.S. as well.

Academics and activists trace the term “Asian American” to 1968, when students at the University of California, Berkeley, founded the Asian American Political Alliance. At the time, the group sought to unite students of Japanese, Chinese and Filipino descent to fight for political and social recognition.

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” (AAPI) is a term that has its roots in the 1980s and ’90s, when the U.S. Census Bureau used the “Asian Pacific American” classification to group Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders together. In 1997, the bureau disaggregated the categories into “Asian” and “Pacific Islander.”

Myth: Asian Americans are high earning and well educated

Asian Americans have a median household income of around $78,000 a year, which is higher than the national median of about $66,000. However, that overall statistic obscures large differences among different Asian-origin groups.

These economic disparities are partially driven by similar disparities in education levels among Asian Americans. The highest-earning groups — Indian American and Taiwanese American households — also have the highest levels of education, while the lowest-earning groups have comparatively lower levels of education.

In fact, a 2018 Pew Research Center study found that Asian Americans were the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the U.S., with Asian Americans in the top 10th of the income distribution making 10.7 times more than those in the bottom 10th.

Myth: Asian Americans immigrate to the U.S. in the “right” way

The Asian American community has the highest proportion of immigrants of any ethnic or racial group in the United States. Yet, Asian Americans are often overlooked in debates about immigration reform.

Asians have a wide range of reasons for immigrating to the U.S., including those coming as refugees or asylum-seekers. Out of the almost 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants in the U.S., around 1.5 million (14%) are from Asia, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Heightened immigration enforcement has also impacted Asian Americans. From 2015 to 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested about 15,000 immigrants from Asia, according to a report by the nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

The report also found that Southeast Asian immigrants were three to four times more likely to be deported for old criminal convictions compared with other immigrant groups. Out of the approximately 16,000 Southeast Asians with final removal orders in that period, more than 13,000 had removal orders that were based on old criminal convictions.

Myth: Asian Americans face less systemic racism and discrimination

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans have increased. In an April survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 32% of Asian American adults — a greater percentage than any other racial or ethnic group — said that they feared someone might threaten or physically attack them.

But anti-Asian bias and discrimination are not new to the pandemic. To understand the current climate, it’s important to look at historical context. In past periods of national tension, especially during times when the U.S. has been at war with Asian countries, anti-Asian racism has similarly risen.

Myth: Asian Americans are fairly represented in leadership positions

Asian Americans are underrepresented in these positions of power, holding about 3% of these positions in comparison with composing 7% of the U.S. population, a report from The New York Times found last year.

More specifically, Asian Americans have the lowest degree of representation in political office compared with any other racial or ethnic group.

Asian Americans are even underrepresented in states with a high concentration of Asian American residents, like New York and California, according to a report by the Reflective Democracy Campaign.

Especially since the start of collective activism among Asian Americans in the 1960s, Asian Americans have had a rich history of political activism and involvement. But that history has not always translated to greater representation in political leadership.

Source: NPR

BG Knocc Out On Anti-Asian Violence, Defending 2 Small Asian Kids When He Was In Juvenile Hall

In the latest clip, BG Knocc Out offered his thoughts on the multiple incidents of anti-Asian violence occurring in the United States. He started by remembering the death of Latasha Harlins, whose death at the hands of a Korean store owner sparked the anger that eventually led to the Rodney King riots. BG Knocc Out spoke out against today’s anti-Asian violence and talked about a time where he defended two Asian kids in juvenile hall. To hear more, check out the above clip.

Reflecting On L.A.’s Chinese Massacre After Atlanta Shootings

The Los Angeles of 1871 was a violent, lawless place.

Historians have described it as one of the last cities to establish civil law enforcement institutions, relying instead on vigilante justice and mob rule.

It also was a place notorious for its mistreatment and exploitation of Black, Asian, Latino and Native Californians at the hands of white settlers. But the venom against Chinese Americans was particularly poisonous, fueled by editorials in the Los Angeles News that attacked them as “barbarians taking jobs away from whites.”

“Los Angeles in 1871 was a dirty, violent city of nearly 6,000 people. Though the city had a higher homicide rate than New York or Chicago, it employed only six police officers to maintain law and order. Lynchings and mob justice were commonplace,” the Los Angeles Public Library wrote.

It was this world 150 years ago that spawned the Chinese Massacre, a bloody siege that brought shame to Los Angeles and widespread changes in the way the city operated. But it did little to alter the core racism that Asians and other groups would continue to endure.

Oct. 24, 1871

The violence of this day was on a scale that even a city known for its brutality and racial attacks had never seen. In 1999, Cecila Rasmussen of The Times provided this narrative of the chain of events:

Gunfire erupted at 4 p.m., just as former city assessor-turned-patrolman Jesus Bilderrain was polishing off a whiskey at Higby’s saloon. Most of the barroom patrons shrugged off the commotion, but Bilderrain — pistol in hand — dutifully went out the swinging doors into the street. A short distance away, he found a man named Ah Choy shot through the neck (it was later determined this shooting was related to a feud between two Chinese gangs). As Bilderrain blew his whistle to summon help, bullets struck him in the shoulder and wrist.

Running to his rescue, saloon-owner-turned-rancher Robert Thompson was killed, shot through the heart by the same unseen gunmen, who also wounded some of the bystanders.

The rioters, meanwhile, rampaged on. Some climbed to the rooftops and used pickaxes to chop holes, firing through them at the immigrants inside. Two men who ran out into the street were cut down by gunmen on the roofs.

One by one, more victims were hauled from their hiding places, kicked, beaten, stabbed, shot and tortured by their captors. Some were dragged through the streets with ropes around their necks and hanged from a wooden awning over a sidewalk, a covered wagon or the crossbeam of a corral gate. Finally, 15 corpses — including those of a 14-year-old boy and the Chinese community’s only physician, Chee Long Tong — dangled in the City of the Angels. Four others died from gunshot wounds, bringing the death toll at the hands of the mob to 19 — 10% of the city’s tiny Chinese population.

Then, every rickety shanty in Chinatown was looted. “Boys, help yourselves,” was the cry. One lynching victim’s finger was cut off for the diamond ring he wore.

The leaders of the massacre paraded through the streets, displaying their booty, to the laughter and praise of the mob. An estimated $40,000 in cash, gold and jewels was stolen.

The next day’s local newspapers called the riot a “victory of the patriots over the heathens.”

The aftermath

In the end, 19 people died in the attacks.

“Ten percent of the Chinese population had been killed. One of the Chinese caught up in the mob violence was the respected Dr. Gene Tong. In fact, of the killed, only one is thought to have participated in the original gunfight,” the library wrote in its history of the massacre.

Bringing justice for the massacre was going to be a tall order for a city with such weak government institutions and little inclination to hold those who killed accountable. As Rasmussen wrote:

During the subsequent coroner’s inquest and grand jury hearings, police and other city officials — fearful of being labeled “Chinese lovers” — shielded the guilty. “I didn’t recognize anyone” was the recurring statement.

There were no other witnesses, since discriminatory state legislation then prohibited Chinese from testifying in California courts. Still, 37 rioters were indicted, 15 tried and eight convicted of manslaughter. A little more than a year later, however, the California Supreme Court reversed the convictions on the grounds that the original indictment had failed to establish that the Chinese physician had been murdered.

An embarrassed U.S. government subsequently paid imperial China an indemnity to settle the whole affair.

The massacre was a black mark for Los Angeles, and city leaders responded by building up the Police Department and criminal justice system. Vigilante rule began to fade. But the racism endured by Chinese and other minority groups actually worsened.

“The massacre did not result in racial tolerance, in fact, anti-Chinese sentiment increased in the following years. The Anti-Coolie club was formed in 1876, counting many prominent citizens among its members, and the newspapers resumed their editorial attacks against the Chinese,” the library said in its account.

The massacre was largely forgotten for generations. But the history was revived in recent decades, in part by Chinese American activists. It was the subject of two history books: “Eternity Street” by John Mack Faragher and “The Chinatown War” by Scott Zesch.

Michael Woo, the first Chinese American councilman in Los Angeles, ended his review of “The Chinatown War” this way:

“Zesch asks whether the right lessons have been learned. He argues that the 1871 massacre may have marked the end of mob justice in Los Angeles. But Zesch attributes this milestone primarily to improved law enforcement, not to the better angels of our nature taming our impulse to scapegoat, pander and pick up a gun.”

Source: LA Times

Wuhan Doctor Speaks Out Against China For Censoring Her Coronavirus Warnings In December 2019

After the passing of many of her colleagues from coronavirus (COVID-19), a doctor in Wuhan is now openly criticizing Chinese health authorities for keeping the early warnings of the outbreak from the public.

Wuhan Central hospital emergency department head Ai Fen spoke out about state censors have reportedly been trying to scrub the internet. 

Speaking with Chinese magazine Renwu, Ai Fen revealed that she was reprimanded December for trying to alert her superiors of a “SARS-like virus” seen in patients.

The novel coronavirus has since killed over 3,000 people in China, including four of her colleagues at her hospital.

At the risk of losing her job and landing in jail, Ai has joined other critics in putting the Chinese government to task for its handling of the outbreak.

“If I had known what was to happen, I would not have cared about the reprimand. I would have fucking talked about it to whoever, where ever I could,” she said in the interview released on Tuesday.

Immediately after Ai’s interview was posted and shared online, it was removed from Chinese social media sites. Even the online magazine that hosted the interview has removed the article.

But as the censors worked to do the cleanup, some Chinese social media users were able to save the article, and now screenshots of the article are being shared in creative ways.

In their bid to evade censors, some users posted versions written in emojis and even Morse codes. There’s also a version done in pinyin, the Romanization system for Mandarin.

Based on the article, Ai received the lab results of a case containing the word “SARS coronavirus” on December 30. She felt nervous after reviewing the report as she has previously seen several patients with flu-like symptoms and resistant to usual treatment methods.

She took a photo of the report with the word “SARS” circled and sent it to a doctor at another hospital in Wuhan. 

The image immediately spread within the medical community in Wuhan overnight. Among those who saw it was Li Wenliang, the doctor who eventually became a whistleblower when his warnings were later shared publicly on WeChat.

According to Ai, she received a message from her hospital that night warning her against sharing information about the disease to the public as it would cause panic. 

She was then summoned and reprimanded for “spreading rumors” and “harming stability” by the head of the hospital’s disciplinary inspection committee two days later.

As even the hospital staff were prohibited from discussing anything related to the virus, Ai asked her staff to wear protective clothing and masks despite hospital authorities telling them not to. She also instructed staff in her department to wear protective jackets under their doctor coats.

“We watched more and more patients come in as the radius of the spread of infection became larger,” she was quoted as saying.

They soon noticed the influx of patients without any connection to the seafood market, which was thought to be the source of the original cases.

While Ai already observed at the time that there must be human to human transmission, Chinese authorities maintain that there was no reason to believe the virus was being passed between people. 

It was not until January 21 when the Chinese officials finally confirmed that there was human to human transmission of the virus. The number of patients coming to the emergency room was already over 1,500 per day, which was three times the normal number of cases.

Ai said that over the last few months, she saw many of her colleagues fall sick and four die from the virus, including Li Wenliang.

Source: NextShark