Searching for His Chinese American Identity: A Psychologist Morphed into A Historian


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An account of how a psychology professor searching for his Chinese American identity became an historian of Chinese American history after he retired.

Monterey Park library 7.24.2012

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  • The Macon City Directory showed that our laundry operated was in the same building on Mulberry Street as early as 1888.
  • I was fortunately spared learning about Fu Manchu, Charlie Chan and his Number one son. But in one of my favorite action comic books, Blackhawk, I had to suffer the indignity of how the Chinese sidekick, with the condescending name, CHOP CHOP, was depicted The squadron was multi-ethnic, with Blackhawk, the American leading a group that included a Frenchman, Dutchman, Norwegian, and even a Chinaman named Chop Chop. All of Blackhawk’s white crew members wore dark blue military uniforms, had revolvers, and piloted their own fighter planes, but Chop Chop wore Chinese-style garb, had a pigtail, buck teeth, and rode in the back seat of Blackhawk’s plane. The other members used their firearms to fight the villains while Chop Chop ran around using only a meat cleaver as his weapon He was about as good as it got in those days as far as any positive Chinese male role model. .
  • Example of sources of attitudes toward Chinese in Macon, and throughout the South
  • irony
  • Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, the First Lady of China, came to Macon in 1943 after visiting numerous sites in the U. S. during this trip to rally support and aid for the war effort led by her husband against the Japanese. She was here to receive an honorary doctorate at Wesleyan. during the height of World War II. Mei-Ling Soong, her maiden name, had lived in Macon when she was an adolescent because her two older sisters attended Wesleyan College there in the early 1900s. this trip to the U. S. also placed significant attention on immigration policy toward Chinese and probably was a factor in leading President Roosevelt to finally end the Anti-Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Someone decided that we four Jung children, being the only children in town of Chinese descent, should be invited to attend the festivities. We were paraded out for public display. I was only 5 or 6, and none of meant much to me, although the press release gushingly described our encounter of a few seconds with Madame Chiang as a thrill that we “tiny Jungs” had eagerly awaited. The most I recall was that it was a hot summer day, and I was more interested in was finding a shady spot than in getting a glimpse of Madame Chiang. This incident illustrates how no matter how ‘American’ we children may have felt or wanted to be, in the eyes of others, we would always be seen as ‘Chinese,’ even if we hardly knew the culture of China or its language.
  • origins
  • Searching for His Chinese American Identity: A Psychologist Morphed into A Historian

    1. 1. Searching For His Chinese American Identity John Jung, Professor of Psychology Emeritus California State University, Long Beach Bruggermeyer Library, Monterey Park Sunday, July 24, 2012 2 p.m.   California Reads Program Cal Humanities Searching for Democracy
    2. 2. Little Indian, Sioux, or Crow,Little frosty Eskimo,Little Turk or Japanese,Oh! dont you wish that you were me?You have seen the scarlet treesAnd the lions over seas;You have eaten ostrich eggs,And turned the turtle off their legs.Such a life is very fine,But its not so nice as mine:You must often as you trod,Have wearied NOT to be abroad.You have curious things to eat,I am fed on proper meat;You must dwell upon the foam,But I am safe and live at home.Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,Little frosty Eskimo,Little Turk or Japanese,Oh! dont you wish that you were me? Robert Louis Stevenson A Child’s Garden of Verses
    3. 3. Why did my parents leave China, and why did they come to Georgia? Why are we the only Chinese people in town? Why do some whites, as well as blacks, make fun of Chinese? Why did my parents, like all the other few Chinese I met, open a laundry? Why is our American surname different from our Chinese family name?Such questions cannot be answered without a study of history!
    4. 4.  Related Laws Against Chinese ◦ Must carry Identity cards ◦ Loss of citizenship laws ◦ Denial of Readmission ◦ Denial of Naturalization ◦ Denied Right to Own Property ◦ Denied Right To Testify
    5. 5.  Paper Sons Paper Daughters Paper Merchants ◦ ‘Merchant’ defined as “person engaged in buying and selling merchandise at a fixed place of business and performing no manual labor” (U.S. immigration regulations 1893)
    6. 6.  Surprise Confusion Shame Embarrassment Resentment Anger
    7. 7.  Family Physical Separation for Decades for Many Family Identity Issues Legal Issues (e.g., finances, inheritance) Confession Program Family Conflicts
    8. 8. Expulsion: Drive Out The Chinese Already Here
    9. 9.  Stay in “Chinatowns” (Safety in Numbers)
    10. 10.  Go where few Chinese live (Be Unseen) Susan B. Carter
    11. 11. Sam Lee Laundry 1953
    12. 12. 18
    13. 13. 19
    14. 14. Where Did Chinese Fit? Public facilities (water fountains, toilets) ‘Picture Shows’ theaters, restaurants Buses and trains Schools, libraries  My drinking fountain ‘mistake’  Disapproval of my Black playmate
    15. 15. 26!??!?! ?!
    16. 16. I Never Had Known The Extent of Anti-Chinese Imagery
    17. 17. Key Network Influences Leading ToChopsticks in the Land of Cotton
    18. 18. 38
    19. 19. 39
    20. 20. How I stumbled onto New England LaundrymenWho Moved to the Delta to Open A Grocery StoreHow I stumbled on the “Last” Delta Chinese LaundryNov. 12, 2008My father grew up in Greenville, Mississippi in the 1920s to 1940s. His mother originally had a laundry and then a grocery storeso he would be really interested in reading your book. Pam (Naperville, Ill.)
    21. 21. hinese Delta C y Talk!A pproved M Berkeley, Mar. 2009 41
    22. 22. Prior Connections Helped Me Find 10 Stories of Chinese Family Restaurant Life
    23. 23. Chinese in America Today We have hard earned respect and success. We are viewed as a model minority (a blessing or a curse?) We are more diverse in our Chinese roots. We are majority foreign-born. We are entering more mixed marriages. Chinese in America Tomorrow As China goes, for better or worse, so go we. Backlash toward China, for any problem, harms Chinese Americans. We are seen as ‘forever foreign,’ not fully American. We can not become “complacent” with gains.
    24. 24.  Of all your books, which is your favorite ? Is the ___ (laundry, grocery, restaurant) in ____ included in your book? What is your next book about? Why don’t you have a ‘southern accent?’ Where did you sit on the bus? How did you learn to speak English so well?