Monday, April 03, 2017

Visit to Museum of Chinese Americans

One of the rooms of the Museum of Chinese Americans - family pictures hung from the ceiling
Saturday we visited the Museum of Chinese Americans in New York.

It was a very interesting museum. It documents the immigration status of Chinese as they entered the US, and it was a very mixed bag.

You can read the details yourself (here on wikipedia), but I will hit some high points.

Mock up of a Chinese Store.
In 1882 the US passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the only law that prohibited immigration based on a Race of People. It started with Chinese, but was later expanded through all "Oriental Races" (except Philippines - a colony of ours).

Those Chinese that were allowed in, then, fell into two groups. Excluded, which could only be male and laborers. And exceptions, that were allowed to bring their families.  The reason so many became Restaurant Owners or Laundry Owners, is that these were the only jobs they could legally own.  They happened to immigrate to build the railroad and there weren't enough women to do laundry (women's work).

It was fascinating.  Anyway, I enjoyed the history.

Anna May Wong
It got better for Chinese during WWII, because we were allies, but then bad right afterwards with Communism.  The anti-miscegenation laws prohibited Chinese from marring Caucasians. Oddly, this law in California prohibited star Ana May Wong from kissing most of her leading men, because they were played by Caucasians in yellow-face as men of the Orient!

Funny / odd side story. The first girl I kissed, at 6 or 7 years old, was Lisa Kittsuda. This had to be in 1965 or so and was, therefore, probably illegal in California.

Back to the museum. It is small and therefore digestible in 90 minutes.  I quite liked it.

The "temporary" exhibit concerned the foods and restaurateurs of Chinese / American origin. It was interesting, but the only good photograph is of the models of each region that were ceramic.
Ceramic Displays representing the regions

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