This May, join EMCC in celebrating the rich heritage, accomplishments, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
The estimated number of Asian alone-or-in-combination residents in the United States.*
Beginning in the 1850s, young single men were recruited as contract laborers from Southern China. Working as miners, railroad builders, farmers, factory workers, and fishermen, the Chinese represented 20% of California's labor force by 1870, even though they constituted only .002% of the entire United States population.
And yet in times of economic hardship, the very laborers who built the foundations of wealth in California became the victims of violence and terror. During the depression of 1876, Chinese immigrants were harassed and targeted by white workers, who blamed Chinese immigrants for the lack of jobs. This anti-Asian sentiment led to the San Francisco Riot of 1877, a three-day ethnic expulsion that resulted in the deaths of four Chinese people and over $100,000 in damage in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Six years later, in 1882, the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act—the only United States Iaw to prevent immigration and naturalization on the basis of race—which restricted Chinese immigration for the next sixty years.
By 1924, with the exception of Filipino "nationals," all Asian immigrants, including Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Indians were fully excluded by law, denied citizenship and naturalization, and prevented from marrying Caucasians or owning land.
To learn more, visit Asiasociety.org.
"In a time of destruction, create something."
- Maxine Hong Kingston
Dew Yu was a Chinese immigrant to Flagstaff during the turn of the 20th century when the Chinese Exclusion Act was law.
She and her husband opened American Laundry in Flagstaff in 1915, a business that, by the time she died, had become a pillar in the community.
To hear more about Dew Yu Wong, her life and contributions to Arizona history, listen to this KJZZ interview with her son, 85-year-old Dr. James Wong. This interview is part of KJZZ's Women of the West interview series.
Wong Kim Ark was born in California in 1873 to parents who were Chinese subjects. In his 20s, after a temporary visit to China, he sailed back to San Francisco.
The Chinese Exclusion Act had been passed in his absence, and upon his return, Wong Kim Ark was detained by the Immigration Bureau because they assumed no Chinese person could hold U.S. citizenship.
Wong Kim Ark protested that he was born in California and was therefore a citizen by birth as understood in the 14th Amendment. He filed a writ of habeas corpus (an order demanding that a public official bring an imprisoned person before the court to show a valid reason for that person's detention), and his writ went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled that Wong WAS a citizen by birthright and further ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment granted birthright citizenship to any person born in the United States, regardless of race or the status of their parents.
For more information, visit https://www.law.cornell.edu/
“Being Asian American means wearing many layers of identity. At first glance, a man of Asian ancestry. At first spoken word, an American. At deeper reflection, a person of color in America. At the core, a person who seeks peace and social justice.”
– Eddie Wong, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, San Francisco
In reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in early 1942, which allowed the U.S. military to declare the West Coast part of the Pacific Theater. It identified all people of Japanese descent, including Japanese Americans, as potential enemies of the state.
It required that all people of Japanese descent, up to 70% of whom were American citizens, be interred in isolated camps across the United States. People were given only 48 hours to pack essentials and secure their land, businesses, homes, and vehicles. If they were unable to find anyone to care for their property or belongings, it was confiscated and sold. Many families lost everything.
The internment camps were located in isolated sections of the country, many in brutal climates, and the cramped, uninsulated, army-style barracks housed four or five families per building. Most lived in these conditions until the end of the war in 1945.
Locally, there were two internment camps in Arizona, one on the Gila River Indian Reservation (over their adamant objections on civil rights grounds) and one in Poston, Arizona.
In 1976, President Ford officially repealed Executive Order 9066, but it wasn't until 1988 that Congress passed, and President Reagan signed, Public Law 100-383, which acknowledged the injustice of internment, apologized for it, and provided a $20,000 cash payment to each person who was interned.
To learn more, visit https://www.archives.gov.
As recently as 1893, the islands of Hawai'i were under the sovereignty of Queen Lili'uokalani, a daughter of the House of King Kamehameha.
Queen Lili'uokalani was deposed by Americans within the kingdom government, who had rewritten the constitution under the previous King Kalākaua, severely curtailing the royal's power and disenfranchising the rights of most Native Hawaiians and Asian citizens to vote through excessively high property and income requirements. This gave a sizeable advantage to the white landowners who had taken Hawai'ian land for sugar, coffee, and pineapple plantations.
Queen Lili'uokalani attempted to restore royal powers in 1893 but was placed under house arrest by businessmen, including Sanford B. Dole of Dole Foods, with help from the U.S. military. Against the Queen's wishes, the Republic of Hawai'i was formed for a short time. This government agreed on behalf of Hawai'i to join the U.S. in 1898 as the Territory of Hawai'i.
It is estimated that the native Hawai'ian population declined from 300,000 in the 1770s to over 60,000 in the 1850s to 24,000 in 1920.
In 1959, the islands became the state of Hawai'i of the United States.
To learn more, visit https://www.nps.gov.
Never cease to act because you fear you may fail.
- Queen Lili'uokalani
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken an incredible toll on us all. While we can begin to see the end in sight as more and more individuals are vaccinated, there is a lot more work to be done to fully recover from the pandemic and its aftermath. For one, we need to end the hate-fueled rhetoric and unfair treatment of our brothers and sisters unfairly associated with the coronavirus. The tragedies in Atlanta and New York, and similar attacks against Asian-Americans have been horrific. These injustices strain our communities, further dividing us, and have no place in a civil society. We condemn hate-filled acts in all forms.
At EMCC, we believe that embracing our differences makes us stronger, and we see our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as a core strength of our College. As an institution of higher learning, we believe in modeling our values through kindness, compassion, and care for all members of our community.
We also recognize that the racism and discrimination against Asian Americans and Asian Pacific Islanders are not a new phenomenon. There is, in fact, a long and sordid history of trauma and abuses towards these communities in the United States. As we embark upon our annual celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we encourage each of you to use this month as an opportunity to further educate yourselves on the history of contributions of the various communities that collectively make up the Asian Pacific Islander (API) experience.
I implore each of you to demonstrate empathy and support for our colleagues who are experiencing the pains of these social injustices. We must lift each other up and strive to create a welcoming and safe environment in which we can all thrive and not simply exist.
To the members of our community who have been impacted by these challenges: if you need someone to talk to, we have confidential resources available through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). To access EAP resources, you can find more information through the Maricopa Community Colleges Employee Portal here.