Ashes, ashes, we all fall down....

In 1899, Hawaii experienced its first encounter with the bubonic plague. The bubonic plague is a bacterial disease that can kill an infected victim within three to seven days. Symptoms included red spots on the skin that later turns black, bloody vomit, and decaying skin. The first case of the bubonic infection was discovered in Chinatown at Honolulu after the authorities discovered a deceased body of a Chinese man plagued with the bubonic disease. Authorities took immediate action by quarantining Chinatown.

Based on their previous experience with measles and venereal diseases, local officials were concern about the life-threatening impact of a new disease introduced to the island. Local authorities closed down schools, isolate new immigrants and burned the bodies of the deceased hoping to contain the disease. However, the isolation and containment of people was not enough and local authorities took drastic measures. They started to burn down buildings in Chinatown they believed were contaminated by the bubonic plague. The burnings were meant to be a controlled, only targeting household that came into contact with the plague. However, they were not able to control the fire resulting in the burning of the entire Chinatown community.

Chinatown and Chinese people from early 1900s and late 1880s were often blamed for the spread of the bubonic plague. Chinatown in Honolulu was the target of multiple burnings due to negative connotations of the location as a disease ridden, sinful place. One of the factors that contributed to the image of Chinatown to be a dangerous, dirty and disease ridden site is that Chinatown during the early 1900s is often dominated by Chinese male laborers. Most Chinese immigrants from that early 1900s traveled to America by themselves to make enough money so that they could send money back or return to China. Issues of prostitution, homosexuality, and opium dens portrayed an unclean image of Chinese men and of Chinatown.

I think the extreme measures taken by the local Honolulu officials of burning down Chinatown were their way of “cleansing the community”. Chinatown was already thought of as an unclean, disease-filled place. By burning buildings that were “touched” by the plagued Chinese, they are able to lessen the chance of the bubonic plague spreading because Chinese resident of the buildings could no longer reside there. By burning down the entire Chinatown community, they were able to get rid of “the origin” of the bubonic disease.

Take me out to the ball game...

The image of Japanese American men pitching balls and hitting homeruns does not first come across our minds when we think of baseball, the great American sport. However, Japanese immigrants have already had great appreciation for the sport before immigrating to American in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Japan had already adopted the sport during the Meiji era (1870s), when Japan was adopting western customs to establish a more modern national identity. Baseball, to the Japanese, incorporated both western and eastern cultural elements. Baseball had Japanese values of harmony, determination, and discipline while also reflecting Western characteristics.

In 1899, Japanese immigrants started their own baseball teams after they settled in the US. The first Japanese American baseball team, Excelsiors, was established in Hawaii. Soon after, more teams of different ethnicities were created and competed with each other. There were the Japanese American team, Chinese American team, Hawaiian team and etc. However, the first mainland Japanese American team, formed in San Francisco in 1903, was the San Francisco Fujii Club. Other cities followed and by 1910 baseball leagues were formed.

The establishments of these first baseball teams had two motives. First, it was a way of leisure and entertainment for the players. Second, they hoped the establishments of the baseball teams would created a better connection between the dominating Caucasian community through the shared interest and love of baseball. However, simply the love of baseball was not enough for the Japanese immigrant community to receive acceptance from the Caucasian community. Instead, they still continued to face opposition and aggression from the general public.

The establishments of the first Japanese baseball teams occurred around the same time of the fear of the “Yellow Peril”. America was starting to feel resentment towards the Japanese community because of their growing population. Also, although many Japanese wore Western clothing and adopted Western customs, they were not accepted because of how they looked. The stereotype of Asian male’s bodies makes it hard to associate Asian males to American sports. Asian males were believed to be frail, feminine and dirty while Caucasian males are masculine and strong. There is also the issue of authenticity. Baseball is strongly associated with the American image that anyone who plays baseball who isn’t an American, anyone who is not a white Caucasian male, lacks the authenticity of a real American baseball player. This stereotype is still well played in contemporary society.

San Francisco Board of Education and Japanese Segregation

After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which halted the entry of Chinese immigrant laborers, American agricultural industry immediately started to recruit Japanese contract workers to replace Chinese laborers. Japanese workers were more accepted than the Chinese due to the Anti-Chinese sentiment occurring during that period. This initiated a new era of Japanese immigration to the United States. Japanese laborers were more likely to travel to America with their families. Unlike the Chinese, they did not isolate themselves to a single large community, like Chinatown. Instead, Japanese families lived throughout the city in smaller community clusters. Also, they had no intentions of going back to Japan, so many assimilated into Western society by adopting American clothing and cultural customs.

Because the Japanese families were more spread out compared to Chinese communities, their children attended local public schools as long as it is permitted by the parents of the white students. There have been a policy established in 1893 to create a separate schooling system for the Japanese students but since there was only a few numbers of Japanese students in each public school system, there was not enough money to fund the policy.

The Anti-Chinese sentiment soon reached the Japanese community in early 1900s after the large increase Japanese immigrant population. What started out as the Anti-Chinese sentiment, developed into anti-Oriental movement. Concerns over job losses, low wages and the growing numbers of Japanese population led to the Japanese to be new targets of blame for social and economic problems. The Japanese community was now experiencing what the Chinese community was experiencing since 1882. In some cases, the Japanese immigrants were seemed to be more threatening than Chinese immigrants because of their ability to assimilate into Western culture. Starting from 1901, there were calls for the Japanese and the Chinese to be both isolated into Oriental school systems.

It wasn’t until February 23, 1905, that the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper officially launched an editorial anti-Japanese campaign which fueled the anti-Japanese ideas that already existed within the San Francisco communities. In May of 1905, The Japanese and Korean Exclusion League was established to focus on the segregation of Japanese and Koreans and to legally exclusion Asian immigrants. The segregation of Japanese and Korean students from public school systems was made possible by the occurrence of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. After the earthquake, many Chinese families moved to other areas or temporary refugee camps leaving enough spaces in the Chinese segregated school systems to include Japanese and Korean students. Therefore the Chinese Primary School in San Francisco became the first Oriental Public School.

Anti-sentiment feelings towards the Chinese and the Japanese immigrant communities are both derived from the fear of the Oriental community dominating the Caucasian community. The idea of the “Yellow Peril” was created from this time period. The fear of little yellow Asian men threatening the standard of living for white Americans fueled racism and inequality towards the Asian community.

Picture Brides

The picture bride system was extremely important to the Japanese immigrants during the early 1900’s. It was a system that allowed Japanese men in the United States to find wives from overseas in order to start families. Japanese bachelors would mail their self portraits to a matchmaker in Japan who then matches the picture with other potential brides. Once the matchmaker finds a suitable match, they are married and the bride is sent over on a one-way trip to the United States. Quite often, the only photo that the men had access to were portraits of them when they were much younger. Most often the women in Japan were duped into thinking that their future husband in America is as young as they were in the picture; however this was not the case. The brides later found out as soon as they meet their husband for the first time that they are much older than and not as attractive as they once were. In the portraits the bachelors were young, however in reality they have aged from the laborious work of agriculture and the psychological stress of social marginalization. One would assume that the bride could easily just go back home to Japan but because they lacked the funds for a ride back and also because of their culture, it is important to have pride and “save face” and deal with the circumstances on their own in order to prevent shaming the family. Picture brides gave the Japanese in America social mobility and family formation all due to the enacting of the Gentlemen’s agreement which allowed for Japan to issue passports to the wives in Japan. The picture bride system and the Gentlemen’s agreement were a way to maneuver around the strict anti-immigration laws against Asians.

Japan’s goal for the Picture Bride system was to prevent the vices of the bachelor society from manipulating the Japanese and therefore to create a positive image of the Japanese people who are looked upon as the representatives of Japan. The Japanese government wanted the bachelors to find wives and form families and therefore develop a filial piety relationship which composes positive role models for other Japanese. Picture brides became popularized among the Japanese Americans in the United States because it changed the Japanese and Asian image of devious primitive aliens to an image of a low-maintenance model minority group (Shirley Lim). Because the nationhood is place on the bodies of the Japanese, it was absolutely important that their image upheld the nation state as a supreme candidate for social acceptance by the Americans leading to the recognition that Japan is in fact a supreme nation. Family formations along with good citizenship status helped posit the positive image of the Japanese as worthy of being Americans. The Japanese sense of belonging helped motivate them to become model citizens in an effort to gain acceptance by the Americans as well as cultural citizenship.

Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907

In 1907, the Gentlemen’s agreement between the United States and Japan was enacted. In this agreement, Japan would no longer issue passports to Japanese emigrants and the United States would allow immigration for only the wives, children and parents of current Japanese whom already reside in the United States. What initiated this act was the fact that the San Francisco school board approved separate schools for the Japanese students. This separation of Japanese students from American students enraged Japan, and in an attempt to alleviate this problem, Japan promised to minimize the number of emigrants in order to change their image of overpopulating America. The proponents of the act were Californian natavists who feared the Asian invasion of the Japanese and wanted to stem their immigration by targeting their citizenship status as an attempt to minimize their occupancy. However, the Gentlemen’s Agreement did just the opposite as it actually helped grow the Japanese population because the act opened the door to picture brides which promoted family formation.

America’s gaze of the Japanese was that of a foreign oriental country gaining power as a nation. During this time, Japan had defeated the Russians in the Sino-Russo Japanese war which made Japan the first Asian country to defeat a European country. This militaristic success changed the outlook America had on the Japanese as a mediocre, primitive country transitioning into a developing nation. Japan was adopting westernized ideas and customs and integrated them into their culture. With all of these traits combined, America viewed the Japanese as an up-and-coming powerhouse nation, one that needs to be impeded in order for America to keep its dominance. Also, Americans started to fear the Yellow Peril. The Yellow Peril is the fear that Japan will expand into America taking over and implementing their dominance through culture and occupations. Yellow Peril had spread through the minds of people through racial discourse using the media and newspapers targeting American natavists and hardcore nationalist especially those in the working class. People participating in the discourse ignorantly internalized what they heard and essentialized all Japanese immigrants to the unfounded stereotypes of forever foreigner, nefarious and primitive (Shirley Lim). This hegemonic idea became popularized and influenced the mindset of the Americans to patronize the Asians and therefore creating animosity as well as social marginalization of the Japanese leading up to institutionalized racism.

Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

During the mid 1800’s there was a massive addition of Chinese immigrants who wanted to form a better life outside of China. California was a popular destination which was also known as “Golden Mountain” to the Chinese for its rich abundance and many economic opportunities. This was a time when America was still building itself as a nation in which the gold rush period and the building of the Railway system were in its initial stages. Gold was abundant and easily gathered as the whites and the Chinese worked collectively. However, as gold inventory diminished becoming scarcer the anti-Chinese sentiment grew. Out of fear, the whites Americans believe the yellow peril was taking over America. Yellow peril is the belief that the Asians were invading America taking over the limited amount of jobs away from them. The Chinese were essentialized to this category which became the catalyst for anti-Chinese sentiment. The whites believed that the Chinese were taking away their jobs as well as creating too much competition for the gold. Tensions and animosity grew against the Chinese which forced the U.S. to enact the Chinese exclusion Act in 1882 which according to the Shirley Lim article, was the first act in American history to bar a group by specific name. This act was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur with the intention of only lasting 10 years. However, in reality the law had lasted 61 years when it was repealed by the Magnusson act in 1943. The Chinese exclusion act excluded Chinese immigrants except for merchants, students, teachers, and travelers from immigrating into the United States without proper documentation. This act also affected those who were already residing in the U.S. by preventing them from become naturalized citizens because they had to obtain special certificates that identified them as permanent aliens ineligible for citizenship. The Chinese exclusion act thwarted Chinese immigrants from coming to America because of the laborious and fail prone process of attempting to become U.S. citizens.

The Chinese exclusion act made the assimilation of the Chinese into America difficult and at times impossible. The act was influenced by the common stereotypes of Chinese as being "primitive" and "decadent" according to Lim. Because of these stereotypes and atrocious notions of the Chinese, through court transcriptions and the amount of legislative hearings invoking this stereotype reflected the production of Anti-Asian legislatures. Anti-Chinese sentiment along with an outgrowth for the competition for jobs created the popular belief of open discrimination and institutionalized racism throughout America. Since the Chinese were seen as forever foreign this led to their alienation and were displaced socially which had an emotional and social influence on them. The Chinese were marginalized outside of the socio-realm of white America. This marginalization created psychological affects that made them ostensibly outcaste to outer boundaries of society. On the social level the Chinese were seen as foreigners here to take away the jobs of the working white man which raised tensions between the two groups. The Chinese were denied social rights such as the right to vote and were pressured to live in creped conditions within Chinatown. Chinatown then became the social space for bawdy, unkempt, and dangerous activity which was always essentialized to the Chinese. As the animosity grew towards the Chinese the feeling of lost identity became apparent as they found themselves to be in a country which at first was a land of opportunities that later grew into a land of segregation.


In the 1880’s, a new variety of entertainment surfaced in the United States and Canada widely known as Vaudeville. Vaudeville was brought to life by a producer of concerts and events, named Tony Pastor. He put together random theatrical acts that included musicians, dancers, acrobatics, magicians, and comedians (pretty much like a circus) and called it “clean” Vaudeville in New York City. Since his targeted audience was female and family-based crowds, he prohibited the sales of alcohol and forbid vulgar materials in his theater. As time progressed, other people who adopted the idea of Vaudeville began to add more risque acts and search for more enticing performers.

…Enter the arrival of Asian immigrants. During this period, the most popular anti-Asian stereotype was “Yellow Peril,” which referred to the image of Asians as a threat to the American society. Although this stereotype had a negative connotation, I think that it helped the Asians get their foot through the door and on the stage to perform. Because the Americans felt threatened by the Asian culture, they were intrigued by what they had to offer.

At the time, the only Asians portrayed in the media were perceived as savages or childish human beings who were inferior to other races and crippled from understanding sophisticated literature, art, or music. The acts that were put on would shock audiences because they have never been exposed to such performances or traditions before. These Asian vaudevillains brought true acts and performances that portrayed real Asian performers rather than yellowfaces. I think that because the vaudevillains took the stereotype of “Yellow Peril” and used it to entice audiences; they gave themselves the image of the “Deviant,” which was the stereotype of Asians to be mysterious and deceitful. These vaudevillains were able to dominate the stage because they used their stereotype to their advantage and put on performances that would give the audience what they expect to see and at the same time, give them a taste of Asian culture that would defy that image. Many performers would wear traditional Asian costumes and play Asian instruments, but sing American songs in English and dance to popular routines.

The history of Asian vaudevillains is not a topic spoken about often because during the 1880’s to 1930’s, the Chinese Exclusion Act would marginalize and erase the existence of Asian performances in literature and media. Although they were suppressed, the vaudevillains couldn’t be completely erased and their determination would make them role models for later Asian performers such as Anna May Wong or Bruce Lee.

Chung Sai Yat Po Newspaper

Chung Sai Yat Po was a Chinese American newspaper that was first published in San Francisco in February 1900. It became the most important and popular newspaper that the Chinese community depended on to get updates on the current news surrounding them and held the record as the oldest newspaper; continued to be published until 1951. Every single issue of the Chung Sai Yat Po newspaper survived and was later digitized to preserve the messages that it intended to communicate with the people. Because the newspaper was published in Chinese-language (transliterated from Cantonese), it would reach the Chinese crowd more efficiently and allowed more people to gain access to the information. Within the years that it was published, Chung Sai Yat Po recorded the distinct contrasting variations of Chinese immigration to the United States; from the hardships and obstacles they faced, to the prosperity they achieved. From keeping up with the articles in Chung Sai Yat Po, Chinese Americans became more and more aware of how they were being treated and how to unite together to defend their traditions and culture. Not only did the newspaper inform Chinese Americans about what was going on in the United States, Chung Sai Yat Po also published the current affairs that citizens in China were experiencing. They often gave advice in their articles that urged and inspired Chinese Americans to take advantage of the fact that they were able to immigrate into America and find work to start a better life. It encouraged the Chinese living in America to try and find business opportunities that could contribute to the economic expansion back in China and to form a transpacific business association.

I respect the Chung Sai Yat Po newspaper for not only raising awareness to Chinese Americans about what other immigrants were dealing with in their nation, but also for keeping them connected to the issues that the rest of their people in China were facing. It reminds them that just because they left China, they can’t escape where they came from because their roots and culture stay with them. It’s like a dual identity because while the Chinese Americans are living in the United States and assimilating, they can also keep their roots by being attached to their homeland. Also, the Chung Sai Yat Po newspaper was all about advocating religious freedom and humantarian morals, so more power to them for that :)

The Rokumeikan

The Rokumeikan, also know as the “Deer Cry Pavilion” or “Hall of the Baying Stag,” was built in Tokyo, 1883 by Josiah Conder, a well-known British architect working in Japan. Commissioned by the foreign minister, Inoue Kaoru, the purpose of this large two-story building was to provide housing for foreign guests of the government and serve as a meeting locality for those Japanese who have had experience living or working abroad.

In 1887, the Rokumeikan became famous for its parties and balls where prominent Japanese figures would assembly every Sunday and be introduced to Western cultures and manners. Men would wear evening suits tailored in London and women would wear fancy ballroom gowns from Paris. They would order food and drinks from menus written in French and dance the waltz or polka. With so many Westernized people occupying it, the Rokumeikan became a potential center for modernization in Japan to blossom.

…But it didn’t. Kaoru intended to impress Western visitors by imitating a Western environment where the Japanese could be seen as cultural equals rather than “natives.” Unfortunately, the Rokumeikan was criticized by many, including Pierre Loti, a French novelist and naval officer. He described the elaborate banquets as “monkey shows” and compared the building to a “mediocre casino in a French spa town.” The more conservative Japanese in society were appalled by the actions of those who resided at the Rokumeikan because they perceived their actions as the degeneration of traditional morals. They were especially offended by how close the men and women would dance with each other (Oh, if only they knew how close people dance nowadays…). Controversies began to arise when gossip of scandalous behaviors involving high-ranking officials surfaced (Although the shady business didn’t occur within the Rokumeikan, this is where they would meet their potential partners to take home). To add to the controversy, people started linking high tax raises to the self-indulgence of the government, accusing them of using the tax money to pay for the expenses of the banquets.

I think the Japanese may have tried too hard to fit in with the Western and European civilization. Just because they wear European suits and gowns, or dance the waltz and polka, or order from French menus doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly not going to be Japanese anymore. I think that instead of trying so hard to assimilate into the Western and European cultures, they should have used the Rokumeikan to share their Japanese culture with the foreign visitors and educate them on how they live; show others that they can live the “Japanese way” and still be just as prominent as others.

Oxnard Strike of 1903

The Oxnard Strike of 1903 was a significant historical event because some consider it the first time, in American History, that people of different racial backgrounds allied together to form a labor union. Traditionally, at the time, Japanese and Mexican laborers (as well as all ethnic groups) were generally against each other. They sort of kept to themselves, and were segregated. This segregation kept the work forces generally weak as a threat to the labor contracting companies, allowing the contractors to keep wages low and render the workers powerless. However, this victory achieved by the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA) in 1903 created the realization that multi-racial unions have power. Below are images of Japanese and Mexican Sugar Beet workers.

In 1897, three brothers--Henry, James and Robert Oxnard, formed the American Beet Sugar Company. The major labor contractor of this company was called the Western Agricultural Contracting Company (WACC). This company composed of over 75% of the local work force and pretty much held a monopoly over the workers at the company. This was the company that the JMLA picketed against. In February 11, 1903, 500 Japanese and 200 Mexican workers who had formed the JMLA opposed the WACC on three main issues:

  • They accused the WACC of unreasonable wages
  • They opposed a subcontracting system that caused workers to pay double commissions.
  • They wanted to be able to buy goods at a reasonable price rather than be subjected to inflated prices at the company store.

On March 23rd, one of the Mexican laborers was killed in a violent shooting incident. Almost immediately after this, a final agreement was reached. This was possibly due to the press coverage of this incident, which could’ve made the WACC look really bad. The final agreement consisted of the WACC conceding to the JMLA’s demands.

I think that the Oxnard strike of 1903 was significant because the outcome had two somewhat powerful implications. One was that it increased the awareness of picket lines organized by class, and not race. This victory demonstrated the possible effectiveness of multi-racial labor unions. In history, employers had taken advantage of these differences that existed among different racial groups to keep them under their control. Another impact of the strike was the American Federation of Labor’s (AFL) reaction to the victory. The AFL continued to exclude all Asian laborers from its union and maintain its exclusive/racial policies. This is evidence of the stereotypes at the time, which are still somewhat present today. That America is a white nation, and that Asians, at the time, were unable to assimilate to American culture.

Hells Canyon Massacre 1887

Deep Creek (above)— located along the Oregon side of the Snake River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, was the stage of an epic mishap. Chinese immigrant miners once used this area. They found it as a convenient place to camp out while they mined gold in Hell’s Canyon. Around May of 1887, 34 Chinese miners were massacred at this very location. The culprits? Seven horse thieves. Every man camped at the location was killed. Some victims were shot down from the cliffs; others were slaughtered by attackers along the river. One Chinese man tried to escape in a boat after the criminals had ran out of ammunition. The horse thieves chased him down and finished him off with a rock. It was said that the Chinese had very little weaponry to fight back during the surprise attack. One man had a pistol, but was only able to fire six shots before running out of ammo. The bodies of the victims were tossed into the river, and their gold dust stolen. The amount of gold they had mined estimated to be between $4,000-5,000, an absolute fortune by the standards of the time. Three of the seven horse thieves were arrested and charged with murder. One of them was only fifteen years old. The others fled and were never seized. The three that were arrested stood trial and were eventually discharged, even with eyewitness testimony. It wasn’t long before the horrendous crime was nearly forgotten. The seven horse thieves had gotten away with the crime of the century. In 2005, the area was renamed the Chinese Massacre Cove.

Depicted above is a Chinese gold miner, mining the river. Anti-Chinese sentiment was very high in the west during the late nineteenth century. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, which made it impossible for the Chinese to become U.S. citizens. It seemed to be part of an American movement to eliminate the Chinese from American life and culture. As soon as the Gold Rush began (after the construction of railroads) the Chinese provided cheap labor for mining. This stirred up more racial hatred towards them, as they were blamed for causing a decrease in wages for the other groups involved in mining (Europeans, Americans, etc.). The details of this full story of this tragedy are forever lost in history. However, we know that this was an era of American history where justice was denied to the most deserving of victims, simply because of their race. We are lucky to live in a generation where this is much less likely to happen.

The Philippine-American War 1899-1902

The Philippine American war was considered by some as America’s first “true” colonial war as a world power, and it’s first imperialistic conflict. The war succeeded the Spanish American war, in which the Americans defeated Spain and purchased the Philippines from them (along with Puerto Rico and several other islands). The Filipinos had already been fighting a bloody revolution against Spain to begin with, and the Americans came along with imperialistic intentions. The Filipinos, indeed, had no intention of becoming a colony of yet another imperialist power.

In 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo (left), with the help of General Meritt from the United States, led Filipino revolutionary forces in the Battle of Manila (not to be confused with the Battle of Manila Bay, in which Commodore George Dewey led U.S. forces to a dominating victory over Spain, in the opening battle of the Spanish-American War). The war resulted in surrender of the Spanish army, and Aguinaldo had intentionally been left out of the negotiations. Tensions rose between Filipino and American forces because the Filipinos had looked at the Americans as liberators against the Spanish imperialists. But it turned out that the United States simply wanted the Philippine islands as their own colony. On June 2, 1899, war was officially declared between the Philippines and the United States. The United States troop strength averaged about 40,000 men and peaked at about 74,000 at one point of the war. There were a total of 126,468 U.S. men that served in this war. In comparison, the Philippine forces included about 80,000-100,000 total Filipino men, with very limited weapons and ammunition.

Especially compared to the United States. Above is an image of the U.S. marine battling against the Filipinos. So, the Filipinos were pretty much getting owned in the war, up until 1900—when the Filipino war strategy was shifted to guerilla warfare. Where the Filipinos began to control most of the battles with their expertise of their native geography. This strategy was used to ultimately fight the Americans to a stalemate and force them to withdraw from the war. In fact, the Filipinos dominated so much, that President McKinley actually considered withdrawing at the beginning of the guerilla warfare stage. As the war continued, however, this only encouraged the American soldiers to act more ruthlessly than ever.

General Jacob H. Smith ordered "kill anyone over the age of ten" during the war.

During the official war years, 4,196 Americans died from either combat or disease. There was an estimated 20,000 Philippine military deaths, and between 250,000 and 1,000,000 civilians. This includes people killed by war, malnutrition, and cholera.

Enough about the war itself--the aftermath has strongly affected Filipino culture (in a way that I'm not sure is good or bad). Being an American colony, the Philippines was then "modernized" to United States standards. Because Filipinos were considered "savage children" compared to the Americans, the American's had to fulfil their duty of "cleaning" the Filipinos. The Filipinos were basically forced to assimilate into American culture. I guess that, eventually, this helped the Philippines gain independence (almost 50 years later). This reminds me of when I went to the Philippines when I was six. It was really easy for me to communicate to everyone there because everyone spoke English. And I think that's now part of Filipino culture, because every Filipino I know knows how to speak English (for the most part). I think that is an important part of a nation's culture, because it is the way in which they communicate. Filipinos are also seen as closely related to Spanish culture, because they were once ruled by them. Many words in tagalog are similar/exactly the same in Spanish, like "sombrero." However, Filipino culture still maintained a lot of originality, for instance--their food. No food is more fatty or greasy than Filipino food.


The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, as we have seen, affected Chinese Immigrants from coming into the United States for decades. Ironically enough however, the fourteenth amendment is supposed to keep Asian-Americans safe from losing their rightful chance from becoming naturalized citizens. Wong Kim Ark, paralleling the tragic Queen Liliuokalani, revealed the lack of correlation between what is law and the discriminatory actions taken against Asian-Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Wong Kim Ark was born in San Fransisco to Chinese immigrants--although his parents would never have the chance to become U.S. citizens, he was awarded citizenship simply by birth. As a young man, he left California for China on what was supposed to be a temporary trip. However at his return in 1895, Ark was detained by customs, despite having been born and raised in San Fransisco, claiming his Chinese ancestry made him Chinese national and not in fact American.

Wong Kim Ark's dilemma got taken all the way to Supreme Court, where the main question being was: can "an American-born person of Chinese ancestry could constitutionally be denied U.S. citizenship and excluded from the country"? In a groundbreaking 6-2 decision by the court, they upheld the notion that despite his parents indeed being Chinese immigrants and therefore never having the opportunity to become naturalized citizens due to the terms of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Ark's allegiance and citizenship to the United States could not be questioned. Although there were opposing views on the case, it was determined that by emphasizing on a citizen's ancestry as opposed to their birthplace was not constitutional.

Ark's case would be used as a reference for several future cases concerning citizenship issues. His case broke grounds on an issue that would still plague Asian-Americans for years to come. Ark's ability to defend himself and assert himself as indeed an American truly broke the stereotype of the "yellow peril" during that time. Asians were feared to take jobs of hard-working Americans; in this case, Ark was that hard-working American, getting his rights taking away simply because of his ethnicity. His case shed light on the hypocrisy of the American government, and although it would takes decade for such an equality to develop, it nevertheless shed a much needed light on the true peril of Asian-Americans in the country during that time.

Long Live the Queen

Queen Liliuokalani, born in 1838, is the epitome of girl power as the last and only reigning Queen Monarch of Hawaii. Raised under the royal family, Liliuokalani was well-educated and spoke fluent English. Native Hawaiians, like most indigenous people, were marketed to the American people as less than capable, required the aid of a more civilized nation like the U.S. to show them the error of their ways. Furthermore, Asian-American women in the United States were being broadcast in newspapers and films as either wild seductresses or meek wives. Liliuokalani, with her education and efficiency as a leader, shattered such steoretypes during her reign as a force to be reckoned with.

After her brother David Kalakaua successfully won the majority vote and become king of Hawaii, Likiukalani won the position of heir-apparent after the death of her younger brother. Officially now a Crown princess, Liliuokalani set out to Europe to the Queen of England's Golden Jubilee. It is there that Liliuokalani garnered information on the Bayonet Constitution that her brother was forced to sign, essentially stripped the royal family of most of their power. This was only the beginning of the tragic demise of the Hawaiian monarchy. The constitution drafted in 1887 was the beginning of the annexation of the Hawaiian nation to the United States.

Kalakaua's death in 1891 meant that Liliuokalani would become the Queen of Hawaii, which was under a power struggle between the native Hawaiians trying to sustain their government and the forceful hands of the United States. Although Liliuokalani valiantly tried to listen to the pleas of her people by instating a new draft of the constiution, American and European businessmen working in Hawaii felt threatened by her actions and devised a plan to overthrow the queen. On January 16, 1893, 162 sailors and marines from the USS Boston landed ashore in Hawaii as scare tactic to the monarchy. The next day, the queen had no choice but to succumb to their demands, actions that President Grover Cleavland deemed illegal. However, Cleavland conditioned the queen to renounce the evil actions of her capturers, a request that was speculated to take too long for the U.S.'s government's comfort. Her hesitation was enough for Cleavland to backtrack on his words and declared Sanford B. Dole (one of the business savvy men who partook in the original coup of the monarch) as president of the Republic of Hawaii. Liliuokalani was on house-arrest for eight-months before she was given her civil rights in 1896. Although Liliuokalani would travel to the United States and still fight for her nation, she was not successful. However her bravery and spirit would be recorded in Asian-American newspapers during her time, inspiring the thousands of discriminated immigrants in the United States.

Mary Tape

Mary Tape was definitely not your average stay-at home mom and broke the stereotype of the submissive, complacent Asia-American Lotus Blossom. After being orphaned in Shangahi and brought to the States by Missionaries, Tape settled in San Fransisco, becoming an accomplished photographer and painter. After marriage and the birth of four children, Tape made what was an expected decision as a mother and member of our society--she enrolled her eight-year-old daughter in public school. It was 1884, not the most progressive time in history for Asian-Americans or any other race that wasn't Anglo-Saxon for that matter; however, the educated and Westernized Tape was still infuriated when Mamie Tape was denied admission into Spring Valley School by the principal, Jenny Hurley. Although this was unfortunately a common occurrence during that time period, it was uncommon for a woman such as Tape to take such aggressive action against the school, filing a lawsuit in a groundbreaking case Tape V. Hurley. Tape's words and demands are logical, as shown in this letter written to the San Fransisco board of education.

Marty Tape took principle Jenny Hurley to the California Supreme Court, suing the board of education and deeming their behavior as violation to "California Political code". In 1885 in a ground-breaking decision, Justice McGuire sided with Mary Tape, stating “To deny a child, born of Chinese parents in this state, entrance to the public schools would be a violation of the law of the state and the Constitution of the United States.” This was a dark and discriminatory era in our history where legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act was prohibiting Chinese workers from immigrating into the country for 10+ years. Tape decision may have been upheld in court, but the Spring Valley School and the San Fransisco Board of Education nonetheless took matter into their own hands. By creating a code separating "Mongol" children from attending their public schools, the board of education formed Oriental public schools for children like Tape's to attend to. This decision is an eerie premonition of the Jim Crow segregation laws of the South that would be enacted a century later. Asian-Americans were not looked at as equals to Anglo-Americans, with the media broadcasting a "Yellow Peril" coming from the far East and taking much need occupations for white men. Ironically enough, Chinese woman like Tape were demeaned in newspapers as prostitutes in San Fransisco's Chinatown or submissive housewives. This mindset was obviously shared by the San Fransisco's Board of Education by establishing such segregation.

Unfortunately, Tape's daughter never got the chance to attend Spring Valley, the administration claiming her "vaccinations were expired". Despite the lack of correspondence of the decision by the judge and the actions taken by the board, Tape's brave and mother instincts has left an impression in our history and forever impacted Asian-Americans.