A Home on the National Mall

“History is not the past. It is the stories we tell about the past. How we tell these stories — triumphantly or self-critically, metaphysically or dialectally — has a lot to do with whether we cut short or advance our evolution as human beings.”

- Grace Lee Boggs

Summer on the National Mall in Washington, DC with my cousins
  • The first Asians in America were Filipino sailors known as the “Manilamen” who jumped ship from Spanish galleons and settled in Louisiana in 1765.
  • Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco but traveled to China to see his family. Upon attempting to return to the United States, Ark was denied entry by immigration on the basis of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. He challenged the government the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 1898 under the landmark ruling about birthright citizenship protected by the Fourteenth Amendment that could not be limited by an act of Congress.
  • In 1871, one of the largest mass lynchings in American history occurred in Los Angeles as 19 Chinese immigrants were killed and 15 later hanged by a mob of 500 white and Hispanic Americans who attacked, harassed, robbed, and murdered Chinese residents of Chinatown. Ten men of the mob were prosecuted and eight were convicted of manslaughter in these deaths. The convictions were overturned on appeal due to technicalities. White residents burned down Chinatowns to the ground all over California in cities like Antioch (1876), San Jose (1887) and Santa Ana (1906). Chinese were actually banned from walking the streets of Antioch after sunset and had to build tunnels to get from home to work.
  • 1944–1946 The 442nd Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the United States Army. The regiment is best known as the most decorated in U.S. military history and as a fighting unit composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought in World War II.
  • The Immigration Act of 1965 finally allowed immigrants from Asia to enter the country again, including Chinese who were banned since 1882. It allowed relatives and children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, professionals and other individuals with specialized skills. This meant that only the most educated and wealthy from Asia could immigrate, leading to the fabricated perception that Asians were the “model minority” which was used as a wedge against other races in America.
  • Yuri Kochiyama was an American civil rights activist. Influenced by her Japanese-American family’s experience in an American internment camp. She joined Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity and was by his side when he was assassinated in 1965.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Andrew Yang was not the first Asian American Presidential candidate in U.S. History. Congresswoman Patsy Takemoto Mink from Hawaii ran for President in 1972. She was the first woman of color ever elected to Congress. Mink fought fiercely for women’s equality and was responsible for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which barred sexual discrimination in institutions receiving federal funds and opened opportunities for women in athletics.
  • On June 19, 1982, Vincent Chin was beaten to death with a baseball bat by two white men in a hate crime in Detroit, Michigan at his bachelor party, nine days before his wedding. Tensions were high in Detroit as American car manufacturers were struggling with the rise of Japanese automakers and laid off autoworkers looked for a scapegoat. The ACLU and NLG would not recognize this as a civil rights case, as many felt that civil rights didn’t apply to Asian Americans. The man and his stepson who violently murdered Chin never served a day in jail and were given three years’ probation, fined $3,000, and ordered to pay $780 in court costs. The result was no different than the mass lynching in Los Angeles over 110 years prior.

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Dave Lu

Co-founder @ Pared. Managing Partner @ Hyphen Capital. Proud Taiwanese-American dad. Passionate about marketplaces and communities.