Your Call: What we can learn from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882? | Listen Notes

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The new documentary, The Chinese Exclusion Act, examines the 1882 law that was established after decades of anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence against Chinese immigrants.
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:14Welcome i'm rosa giller and this is your call Donald trump's Executive order banning travelers from six muslim majority countries goes into effect tomorrow Once again the order already faces legal challenges So far eight states including california hawaii and maryland have filed a lawsuit against the ban The ban
00:00:36and ongoing deportations of mostly mexicans and south americans have caused millions of undocumented immigrants to live in fear of being arrested detained and deported Since the election the number of hate crimes targeting muslims and jewish community centers and cemeteries have been on the rise And then last month
00:00:55at a bar in olathe kansas adam print in a white man shot two indian men who he thought were from iran One man died witnesses say Parenting yelled get out of my country so why is this happening in a country that has traditionally been referred to as a
00:01:12melting pot Welcoming people from different countries races and religions does the history of the united states support this claim Well the new documentary the chinese exclusion act meticulously details decades of anti immigrant rhetoric and violence targeted at chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century anti chinese sentiment resulted in
00:01:34the chinese exclusion act of eighteen eighty two It was the country's first law that banned immigration by race or nationality The law barred chinese laborers from entering the country and prohibited chinese immigrants from seeking american citizenship The film asks a lot of the same questions that we are
00:01:52asking today in twenty seventeen who gets to be an american How do we define citizenship When and why should anyone be blocked from coming to the united states or deported Where does anti immigrant hysteria come from Ric burns is a six time emmy award winning director who has
00:02:10been creating historical documentaries for public television for over twenty years and lee shin you is an award winning film editor and a longtime collaborator of ric burns ric burns and lee shin You are co directors of the chinese exclusion act The film is incredible and it will have
00:02:27its west coast premiere at the annual cam fest on sunday at seven o'clock at the castro theatre in san francisco and you can watch the trailer at your call radio dot or ge ric burns and lishan you join us from the studios of the radio foundation in new
00:02:41york hi rick and highly shin welcome to the show cairo's thanks for having us well to be with you it's great to have both of you and congratulations on this film thank you so much for making it You know i am a california native and i didn't really
00:02:57know much about the chinese exclusion act lee shin did you know much about it before you embarked on this journey You know actually not i'm sort of ashamed to say ah rick and i were working on a film called away west back in the early nineties and towards
00:03:17the end of the project we came across an incident that took place on the snake river where a group of chinese miners about thirty one thirty four of them had bean attacked by a band of um ah horse traders and were slaughtered mutilated body parts going to the
00:03:42river and it just floated upstream it was discovered and we just sort of was shocked that a of this particular violence and then be why it was happening and sort of the whole history surrounding in it and so that began a decades long sort of thinking about this
00:04:07issue and learning more about it and i think we were always wanting to places history in the larger context of american history so understanding all the forces you know economic ah social political geographical owe everything that kind of led to the passage of this act which is you
00:04:37know any american if you ask them about this we'll be we'll be really surprised shots and shots actually shocked yeah rick what about you did you know much about this act we'll likely shannon you know we learned about the snake river massacre you know stake river forms the
00:04:55border of of idaho in oregon you know twenty twenty five years ago on dh more recently about five years ago louise mirror who's the president of the new york historical society had a wonderful idea to do an exhibit at the new york historical society on the chinese exclusion
00:05:12act and asked us to join forces with her that exhibit opened two years ago two and a half years ago on dh we launched into that this project they were foreign twenty twelve sort of with a deep sense of uneasiness about the background of violence in the nineteenth
00:05:27century on also you know kind of a sharpened sense of this this act may sixth eighteen eighty two president chester a arthur signs into law a unique piece of federal legislation unique at the time but the first of many which barred chinese laborers from coming to the country
00:05:45and barge chinese full stop from becoming citizens of the united states and it didn't matter whether you're a citizen from you know sung hae or beijing or that you're a chinese national coming from london the fact of the matter was as if you were racially chinese you were
00:05:59considered incapable of simulating to the american experiment biologically culturally racially unfit to be part of the american dream likely to be an enormous burden racial and otherwise to the american project and therefore needed to be exempt preempted to avoid few further social issues of the kind for example
00:06:19the united states was right in the middle of and had gone through hideously with that civil war and issues of race and slavery and african american status So we really wanted to sort of drill down on this ago Where did this come from And as importantly why don't
00:06:33we remember it You know eighteen eighty two is the threshold of what was called the new immigration twenty four Twenty five million people coming into america in a generation and a half at the end of the nineteenth century early twentieth century So at that point of population which
00:06:48at that point represented two tenths of one percent of the population one hundred five thousand people were being preemptively excluded and what even those who were in the country while their grand fathered in where it's sort of excluded you know and marginalized within american society how did that
00:07:04happen When do we decide who was an american who wasn't an american on dh in the course of that investigation discovered that this story of the chinese exclusion act is not a story just about chinese and chinese immigrants not just a story about immigrants but a story about
00:07:20america itself from before the beginning right down to today so surprise surprise tomorrow the muslim ban goes into effect well and that's what i wanted to ask both of you about alicia in the history in this film it's so strikingly similar to what we're facing today and as
00:07:39rick said the the ban banning travelers from six muslim majority countries goes into effect tomorrow and then i just can't stop thinking about what happened last month at that bar in olathe kansas where a white man shot two indian men who he thought were from iran and witnesses
00:07:56say that he yelled get out of my country and now there are a lot of stories in the new yorker has a story about how indians air living in fear right now wondering what's to come so you spent so long on this film you interviewed historians and i
00:08:11mean this became such a part of your life and now we have this how are you making sense of this Well what's going through your mind right now Well it's just um it just feels like history is repeating itself you know all of this was going on back
00:08:30And i think that's rick a saying from the very get go You know i i think we as americans never really came to term with the fact that from the very beginning we were a nation of color You know they were slaves were brought here There were the
00:08:54native americans who were here there were the mexican americans were across the west and we simply just you know the manifest destiny idea that thie anglo american will just rightfully overtake Ah and then subsequently along along the way just um categorize everyone else as others When you put
00:09:25people as others it becomes very easy to say well you know x y z do you just not part of us And so just over time over and over again let's figure out a way to get rid of thumb i think there's a kind of rosa constitutive ambivalence
00:09:45and contradiction and the american experience that we are indeed made up We are a nation of immigrants but we have all been a nation of immigrants that from the very beginning was profoundly ambivalent about that And so we're sort of a nation that's not only a nation of
00:10:01immigrants but a nation of a kind of a frightened proactiv identity creation mechanism which wants to decide that some americans are more american than others and some americans are less americans and other than it has to do with identity it has to do with class certainly has to
00:10:18do with race and that runs as our wonderful one of our many many wonderful historians Erica lee a cz points out in the film i think very very eloquently know this ambivalence about immigration runs right through american history from from the beginning and that when you come down
00:10:35to today and you think like why is it that we feel that we're a nation of immigrants and that we sort of hold make make the presumption that we've always been so it's a very very recent phenomenon It's a phenomenon of the last fifty sixty seventy years before
00:10:49jfk john f kennedy when then senator kennedy wrote a book called the nation of immigrants in the nineteen fifties were a nation extraordinarily ambivalent about about immigrants we had been and level it about those twenty four twenty five million people coming from from europe and southern europe in
00:11:07eastern europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century I mean a watchword of the time was europe is vomiting on dh so it was really as erica lee points out it was a cold war phenomenon after the second world war and civil rights from a nominee when
00:11:23it now seemed advantageous as well as morally just to say to the rest of the world on whom we were projecting an image of ourselves as democratic and in a kind of a scrimmage with alternate views of society's particularly the soviet union and chinese communist common communism that
00:11:40we were open that were egalitarian And sure enough the chinese exclusion act while technically repealed in nineteen forty three really is a public relations gesture during the second world war didn't in fact come to an end until nineteen sixty five when the heart seller act a landmark piece
00:11:56of legislation eradicated the national origin system which had been in effect modeled on the chinese exclusion act since nineteen twenty four So i born in nineteen fifty five was one of those people who came up as with lee shin also born in nineteen fifty five with the presumption
00:12:11that the statue of liberty's torch we sort of warmly glowing over new york harbor had always been there Of course it was put up at the very moment in the nineteen eighties that the chinese exclusion act went into effect and that we were always constitutionally in our cultural
00:12:26and political dna opened immigrants Not so we have always been ambivalent and it's really a very modern phenomenon that would he have decided that we are on principle a nation that's always been open to immigrants even since we announced that in the nineteen sixties on dh have mohr
00:12:41less cleave to that ideologically ever since underneath the surface and sometimes not just underneath the surface erupting into the contemporary moment is this profound sense that some people have more right to be american than other people I often say that we're a nation of immigrants founded on native
00:13:01genocide because when you say sometimes when you say we're a nation of immigrants native americans are kind of for gotten in that sentence and so in some ways i wasn't surprised that i didn't know much about the chinese exclusion act because i wasn't talked much about native genocide
00:13:17in school So what do you think it means really to come to terms with our history I think it's you know if we don't understand all if we don't understand our past it's really hard to move forward too making decisions of what what we want our future to
00:13:44be and you know when you were you categorize certain people into thiss otherness there's extreme ambiguity for those people and it's extremely difficult to live under ambiguity you know and and we know from our history as well that immigration is um it's kind ofthe the foundation you know
00:14:14our founding fathers knew that we needed to have immigrants to come and settle the nation and cultivate and build up this poor you know run down ah bankrupt country at the time a young republic and so from the very beginning you know and throughout the ages immigrants who
00:14:38come they are in fact a very courageous group of people for reasons you know they're leaving their home country they're leaving their family they're leaving a known world to them to come to a brand new world forging ahead you know usually under very difficult circumstances and make a
00:15:07life for themselves and that kind of energy has being just enormous in building this nation and so we just kind of tend to forget that and continue to struggle with you know our were pro realistic society or do we want to be human genius and you know and
00:15:32it's an evolving struggle that continues and we have to just always kind of stay on top of it and not um just not for us not forget yeah exactly not forget you know remember the history cause of history is so eliminating and and not forget lisa knew is
00:15:59an award winning film director and ric burns is a six time emmy award winning director and they are co directors of the new documentary the chinese exclusion act the film will have its west coast premiere at the annual cam fest on sunday at seven o'clock at the castro
00:16:16theatre in san francisco and if you'd like to join us we'd love to hear from you Are you familiar with the eighteen eighty two chinese exclusion act it's a landmark little known piece of federal legislation that really reshaped american law Civic life foreign policy it's the only federal
00:16:33legislation in us history ever to single out a name a specific race and nationality for exclusion from immigration and citizenship The toll free number is eight six six seven nine eight eight two five five What questions do you have Rick and lee shin about what they discovered It's
00:16:51an incredible documentary with so much amazing history about california and san francisco but really about the whole country But i just i love the parts about california in san francisco it just revealed so much information that i never learned in school If you are of chinese heritage have
00:17:09your parents shared their stories with if you do you know about your ancestors the circumstances involved in their decision to come to united states do you know how they were treated once they got here Eight six six seven nine eight eight two five five You can also email
00:17:25feedback at your call radio dot or ge let's dive in and talk about this amazing history that you tell in this documentary It started really with trade in china and in the film you talk about the fact that china was one of the few countries that could do
00:17:42international trade that was not yet colonized and the u s was very interested in trading with china Rick talk a little bit about some of the more interesting aspects that you uncovered about that relationship You know it is fascinating and i think it speaks to something which is
00:17:59a theme throughout the film and of course the theme throughout american and world history from the late eighteenth century down to today which is that you know we think of america is a place in manifest destiny that the exceptional assaidi of america which tends to lead towards exclusion
00:18:13national exclusion but of course country is founded out of global movement of people in things you know that goes back to the renaissance Fourteen ninety two columbus what is colomb What air europeans looking for in the fifteenth sixteenth century they're looking for a faster route to china They
00:18:28want chinese and oriental thing which are extraordinarily sophisticated enough high value lacquer and incense and silk on dh tea and so there's a way in which it's not just a sort of a lovely conceit to say america was founded as europeans were trying to get to china and
00:18:45get chinese things and then his leash in was pointing out from the very beginning america this bankrupt nation of four million people that had just released itself from from dependence from inclusion in the british empire were excluded london said fine go your own way but you're sure as
00:19:01hell not going to trade within the british commonwealth which by that point had a footprint over much of the world And what wasn't british colonial power dominated was friend short portuguese or spanish So where were they going to look to the one nation the one empire that had
00:19:17not yet been colonized by your europeans in the late eighteenth century The first ship to leave new york harbor in seventeen eighty for after the end of the american revolution was called the empress of china and she went to china to establish the china trade so that the
00:19:32struggling nation could get off the ground And you know it was profoundly successful The china trade we we went to china we began to trade under very very strict circumstances controlled by the ching dynasty on dh on it went from there Much of the infrastructure of early america
00:19:48the canals later even the railroad system was paid for by the profits that came in from the china trade with a huge problem from the beginning which was that there was a huge imbalance of trade china wanted nothing at which point one of the great sort of mechanisms
00:20:03on dh horrors of nineteenth century history was put into place the british and their young now american trading partners decided to give give the chinese something that they wanted opium and when the chinese got upset about that and burn ships filled with opium after millions of people in
00:20:20south china had been addicted they burned american and british ships and the british the americans went to war with him what we now call glibly the opium wars and we bring it up only to say that people don't move start moving around the world out of extra x
00:20:36diello it doesn't just happen chinese didn't just show up in our chore it happened because there was already a profound movement which with centuries old of people and things around the world which is accelerated in nineteenth century with the forcible opening of china the opening wars the taiping
00:20:52rebellion and now you had a complicated group of people in south china whose options were limited who needed to go somewhere and there were american ships in the harbor and they jumped on them and they went to the gold rush after eighteen forty eight it was discovered in
00:21:06january you know that they were part of the earliest groups of forty niners though not in great numbers at first the chinese but the world rushed in and the chinese were part of that world rushing in and so it shows you at a point where nate you know
00:21:19america was still essentially an east coast phenomenon eighteen forty nine eighteen fifty did just acquired by forests that the american far west from from mexico So at this very critical moment when when globalization which has already been moving picks up it goes on steroids in the mid nineteenth
00:21:35century incomes everybody and now america has a special challenge who's america is it sin aurens Is it french is you know is it australians Is it god forbid chinese who have just started to russian along with american miners from the east So you see this that's why california
00:21:53which is well a stegner great american writers said you know california's just like the rest of the world only more so california turns out to be this sort of petri dish on the west coast of the continent of north america in which crucial issues of identity pluralism justice
00:22:11and that's where the crucial part of it really comes in people from outside the country as well as people from inside the country knew that there was something really special about this place it wasn't that there were a lot of white people here It was that it had
00:22:24a constitution a bill of rights It had the rule of law and that it was an evolving process and an evolving set of structures were a nation of laws not a nation of men and women And people from outside the country saw that remarkable thing And the truth
00:22:40is america is a global phenomenon from the beginning That's what it means to be a nation of laws And it turns out and this is the shining rewarding inspiring part of this story that is men and women chinese in this case came from abroad inspired by the attraction
00:22:55of the rule of law and democracy and all men are created equal They were the ones time and again who made those words have really meaning as they saw how unique they were and who then use those words not just the words of the declaration of independence and
00:23:11the constitution but of the fourteenth amendment signed into law in eighteen sixty eight that says all persons have a right to be here All persons born here are americans and so there's this tremendous way in which the chinese immigrants so hard done by are in some sense more
00:23:29americans and the americans in the land that's excluding them and that's a hugely interesting and powerful and and hopeful story in the way in this kind of huge backwash of forces that includes so much injustice that the basic principles on which the nation has founded are ones which
00:23:46are really in some sense intrinsically color blind national blind and it really there to be grasp on by anyone who sees them and that's Why this story the chinese exclusion act it's not just the story of persecution and exclusion but the story of forcible self inclusion using the
00:24:04very principles that are in some sense enshrined in the most basic documents of the republic and that's what happened over the course of the sixty two years of exclusion and what continues to happen today and that's why this is a story of enormous heroism and essentially a story
00:24:19of american promise lee shin it's also so interesting to learn about why chinese people came to the united states to begin with And that story tends to be ignored or overlooked when we talk about immigration And when rick was talking about the uk turning to opium to regain
00:24:39trade power americans were also involved in that and that and so many chinese became addicted to opium the chinese set in enough and that was the pretext for great britain goingto war and so you had agricultural land in china it was destroyed a huge a problem with drought
00:24:57poverty and so poor people in china had to look for jobs and then they heard about gold being discovered in the united states and those ships were there ready to take people to california for the gold rush right it's sort of what rick was saying thiss immigration migration
00:25:17you know the courage of these people that i spoke off earlier the flip side is you know how bad things were at home to push factors and those factors you know it has to do with globalization has to do with the form you know for sure the ching
00:25:38dynasty i was having was falling apart um due to corruption and in its own weight but the foreign forces had a huge um influence on ah sort of making life unsurvivable for the chinese And so you know you and chinese from the pearl river delta area had a
00:26:12tradition of migrating out into asia you know other parts of asia to look for work and they would return that's how trade was not a new thing so the idea of getting on the ship to go much further for sure teo across the pacific to come too to
00:26:35this country is is even a greater effort um i have the relation thought but we've got a really good point people as wonderful historian main i says in our film you know you know the people who have options don't come don't leave people who people who are are
00:26:58doing okay tend not to leave it's the people whose choices every dude been reduced to near zero are actually zero who get up and move that's that is the actual dna of international migration You stay you know you don't migrate unless you have to on dh So this
00:27:15is a group of people who absolutely had to at that point and part of the reasons is lee shin is saying was because of this complex sort of global internet set of interactions and they're on the move as well and it makes us have to understand like we
00:27:29can't simply say build the wall and by the way you know build the wall we're going to build a great wall was exactly what was being said from governor john big lose time in the eighteen fifties in california right down through the beginning of the exclusion period in
00:27:42the eighteen eighties There's puck illustrations which are breathtaking of you know a group of american a motley group of american workers some black some irish some germans building a huge stone wall while on the far side of the pacific the chinese the great wall of china is disintegrating
00:28:03and hopping into boats are the yellow peril horde coming over you know we it is not the case that people show up at your doorstep for no reason whatsoever whether they're coming from latin america mexico the caribbean south america east europe or china and there's a profound way
00:28:22in which i feel america has done disservice to itself to its own history and to its moral obligations to the rest the world not to realize that we are not an exceptional nation we're not a nation in its own private idaho despite the snake river massacre were nation
00:28:39that has always been it in to a global reality of which were fully in which were fully implicated in which were fully involved in which we have no moral necessities that air actually transnational Ric burns is an award winning director and lee shin yu is an award winning
00:28:58film editor and they are co directors of the new documentary the chinese exclusion act The film will have its west coast premiere at the annual cam fest on sunday at seven o'clock at the castro theatre in san francisco and you can watch a trailer at your call radio
00:29:13dot or ge this is your call and we'll be back after this your call is better when you get involved If you have a question idea or experience to contribute to today's conversation call eight six six seven nine eight eight two five five that's eight six six seven
00:29:46nine eight talk toll free can also send an email to feedback at your call Radio dot org's morley the comment of the show's website said A bookmark for your call radio dot org's and you can also tweet us at your call radio Coming up at eleven world have
00:30:05you're safe on bbc Stay with us This is your column rose ocular Today we're talking about the new documentary the chinese exclusion act It details decades of anti immigrant rhetoric and violence targeted at chinese immigrants In the nineteenth century anti chinese sentiment resulted in the chinese exclusion act
00:30:34of eighteen eighty to the united states first law that banned immigration by race or nationality and today we're joined by ric burns and lishan You there Co directors of the chinese exclusion act this film will have its west coast premiere at the annual cam fest on sunday at
00:30:51seven o'clock at the castro theatre in san francisco I'm guessing this is probably going to sell out so you might want to get your tickets soon And if you'd like to join us the toll free number is eight six six seven nine eight eight two five five You
00:31:04can also email feedback at your call radio dot or ge and lee shin and rick We have full lines We have a lot of questions for you so let's kick it off with dan in san francisco Hi dan Welcome to the show Hi Um two questions real quick
00:31:20If i might um i'm wondering what what lessons you might take or if you looked into the labor movement roots of the chinese exclusion act gaining gaining kind of uh popular steam in america And i'm also curious you know what legacy you see in chinese american culture of
00:31:39the chinese exclusion act which obviously was was in place for quite some time That was a two really fantastic questions Can you know that the fascination of this story is how intricately internet it is with everything that's going on in america you know from the mid nineteenth century
00:32:00on you know the chinese come over there and small number for the gold rush They begin to be excluded already because they're competing in the gold mines Or so seem to be competitors in the goldmine lines with with white miners We know they're essentially forced out of the
00:32:15gold fields Then you know that civil war comes along their founding themselves They're finding what jobs they can that's why they go into laundries Nobody else wants to do the laundry's that's Why they start opening restaurants but then the railroads the railroad active son in law the central
00:32:31pacific who are building the western and need a labor force comparable to the huge number of largely irish immigrants who are building the union pacific west from omaha who's on the ground in california to build it well there is a reasonable number of chinese laborers very quickly Charles
00:32:49crocker leland stanford begin to discover that the's chinese laborers are extremely effective their self organizing their relatively healthy there's self disciplined in a way that many of the white chinese miners turned out not to be So they actively recruit thes minors to come in Since that moment of
00:33:05proactive recruiting of mohr chinese to come in to help with the gold with the building of the transcontinental railroad is the beginning of a really of ah break point because now you have chinese who begin to be seen as and called sort of coolies who come in all
00:33:21mass We're going to compete with american riel American labor force is a tte the ground and take their jobs And the irony is that once they do such a good job finishing the transcontinental railroad in nineteen eighteen sixteen nineties every one of these dynamics that have to do
00:33:37with labour now that we have a national transportation system wham is nationalized So now you know southern plantation owners in mississippi and louisiana are looking for a labor force to replace the emancipated slaves The freedmen who who are flooding off the plantations who's going to pick the cotton
00:33:55They reach out to california to get chinese to come in and pick the cotton labor strikes begin to take place in places like north adams massachusetts Where in eighteen seventy shoe factory goes on strike What What is the head of the shoe factory do He looks with hap
00:34:09what's happening in the south with plantations And he sends a recruiter out to bring seventy five chinese in from the west coast Now the numbers are always very very small But what gets to be seen is this idea that this alien very very different on a similar bull
00:34:23mass of people are going to stream in look at their numbers they may only be a few now but they could bring in millions are going to come in they're on a similar ble they're essentially parasitic almost not human and they're going to come in and start competing
00:34:37with the people for the low end jobs in the american economy So you begin to have this interplay between sort of class tension you know the coot that chinese air then associated with the monopolise with the fat cats with the people who are going to steal people's jobs
00:34:51So then you get to see this tremendous struggle and swirling set of forces which have to do with race class national identity and that's what builds over the eighteen seventies and as it builds you begin to see popular politicians across the country not just now in in in
00:35:08california begin to double down on and pander to this growing and exasperate growing white working class fears of the other in particular the chinese violence begins to break out you know it becomes this sort of like vicious self confirming cycle in which you know them or them or
00:35:27and finally it all spills out in the eighteen eighties When the legislation goes into effect and it's really at that point you got to remember the numbers are very small Any actual economic analysis would show that the chinese were not taking away jobs which non chinese americans or
00:35:43other immigrants were taking so that it's really kind of being blown out and be blown out of proportion and becoming part of this american dynamic And of course once it's consolidated into law in eighteen eighty to it then has this extraordinarily terrible impact which is that legitimizes the
00:36:04very hatreds and fears which have already been exacerbated through the eighteen sixties and seventies now become legitimate national level It's okay to exclude chinese and now a kind of sort of exactly accelerated movement within the country especially in the american west Wyoming idaho oregon washington california utah where
00:36:26chinese communities chinese mining camps chinese farms are purged three hundred cities villages and hamlets across the american far west were purged and sometimes fridge entirely eureka tacoma of their of their chinese populations and the amount of violence that took place as a result is huge So this is
00:36:47a case study that goes from you know economics labor class race psychology scientific racism there's no aspect of the components of what a society is that aren't engaged and enlisted and also revealed an illuminated by this story And lisa do you want to take the second part of
00:37:11dance question about how this has affected chinese communities across the country but just to add to that you know thiss was also all taking place you know we have to remember to president of president of the successful removal of huge native american populations you know So it's it's
00:37:34it's every you know history doesn't happening isolation everything informs each other And so we already have learned how to push natives native americans off too tiny plots of land So it's it's very easy then now to say well you know the loss is chinese shouldn't be here so
00:37:59let's just let's just get rid of them and violence leash into that point Do you know if when the chinese came to the united states what kind of contact did they have with native americans Did that come up on any of the interviews Uh no you know no
00:38:20it didn't it's interesting I mean there was there got to be a growing amount of contact between native chinese american and african americans They were anti miscegenation laws which prevented chinese immigrants and chinese americans from inter marrying with white americans but those laws as they were with african
00:38:38americans and those but those laws you know did not prevent you know sort of intimacy and family creation amongst people across different racial groups that are thought of as being people of color so there was a kind of a natural sort of shifting and clustering together of excluded
00:38:57groups and remember his leash and was saying this is when in the eighteen eighties eighteen seventies eighties is when reconstruction is failing when the promises of the civil war are disintegrating african minute african americans are being you know sort of re constrained and re concluded within american society
00:39:15after a brief window of hope during the eighteen sixties after the civil war in the civil civil war civil rights amendments so there is a lot of traffic going back and forth amongst people of color in this country who have a shared who have a shared experience of
00:39:30marginalization well thank you again for calling in let's go next to fran and san francisco hi friend welcome to the show thanks for taking my call i have a comment my exposure to the chinese exclusion act is i've spent quite a bit of time transcribing ship's passenger lists
00:39:50on the china the lists of chinese people who arrived after the exclusion act and we all hear about what happened at angel island but angel island wasn't in place around the turn of the century and i'm aware of at least one man who arrived and was turned away
00:40:11not turned away but not allowed to enter the country and they had no place to put him so they put him in a crate on the pier they they had difficulty housing women who arrived on weren't accepted because they weren't willing to put them in jail Uh and
00:40:31the one thing that hasn't been mentioned was that there was with equal disarray when the exclusion act was enacted uh there were many chinese who were already on the on ships and they were turned away when they got here it was complete i mean it's an enforcement nice
00:40:50nightmare is mae ni our history is when you had already read place frustration in the act was imposed and with the understanding they would be able to land but then they act occurred before they arrived and they returned away What does that remind you eventually familiar today Yeah
00:41:10Very familiar And lisa and the other thing that we learned about in the film is the passage of the page act in eighteen seventy five which prohibited immigration of people coming under contracts to work It also prohibited prostitution Chinese women who wanted to come to the united states
00:41:26had to prove that they were not prostitutes and as the historians tell us in the film a lot of women chose not to go through that humiliation can you tell us about that Yeah it's it's you know you had to get permission on china side with us consulate
00:41:45there and it's you know if you imagine yourself going in and have to answer all these very very personal detail about your life just to prove that you're not a prostitute that you will never be one that never have head been one i mean that just thinking about
00:42:11that it gives me chills yeah you know the humiliation So even though families may it just did not want to put there wives daughters into those position even though you know husbands maybe over here and you're desperately wanting to join your family but who wants to go through
00:42:35that to them be rejected So it was a very deliberate move to um allow no procreation of chinese here so that the gradually the community will just just hopefully die out because if you can't have children you know what's next and franz remarkably effective as well that the
00:43:08number i mean remember this is a remarkably male society of of chinese immigrants in the mid nineteenth century and the numbers before the page act of eighteen seventy five there for every one thousand chinese men in the country there were seventy eight chinese women which is aria a
00:43:26remarkable distortion to be sort of applying on a group in terms of family life is lee shin says procreation female chinese in migration just plummets after the page act of eighteen seventy five so that within five years it's not seventy eight out of the thousand or women is
00:43:44now forty five or something like that out of a thousand on so it was extraordinarily effective at kind of like really really closing off not just the female population but but but also the ability to create families into therefore you know sort of generate families and generations of
00:44:01chinese americans well thank you again for calling and sharing that story friend i hope you can see the film today we are talking about the new documentary the chinese exclusion and act with co directors ric burns and leash and you the film will have its west coast premiere
00:44:17at the annual cam fest on sunday at seven o'clock at the castro theatre in san francisco and if you'd like to join us the toll free number is eight six six seven nine eight eight two five five you can also email feedback at your call radio dot or
00:44:32ge let's go next to ruth anne in el sereno hybrid fan welcome to the show hi there good morning i wanted to ask the guest if other image my grand parents came over from ellis island and my dad was really reluctant and ashamed and never wanted to speak
00:44:51about it when we would ask all these questions and the way i learned about my ancestry was through novels like you know like great american novelist who wrote about immigration through ellis island to the lower east side and i was wondering if that was comparable to other immigrant
00:45:08groups there was that sort of shame and not money to tell your kids what you went through when you came over thank you without yes um angel island you know some people say well it's the west coast version of ellis island but ellis island really if you look
00:45:30at the statistic was a place that was much more welcoming it was a gateway to america where s angel island was established rule e sa aah guard post of not allowing if possible any chinese too be amid it and you know people were detained you know on average
00:46:00at least two weeks two months you know the longest detention was two years ah if you imagine what that must felt and meant thie being stuck on this island being in a barrack situation and just not knowing what your future will be and so on the walls of
00:46:27the detention barican angel island o the immigrants carved poems just just heartbreaking beautiful poems about their experiences in there ah their desires their hopes and their disappointment and dissolution digitally disillusionment it's it's really a remarkable place rick what are your thoughts Did you find reluctancy among anyone who
00:47:01interviewed and sharing their experience you know it's interesting that roof and what you what you describe is it's so moving which is his complicated relationship immigrants from anywhere have to the experience of immigration on dh i think that my impression as a you know native born american not
00:47:24of chinese and history was that those experiences were exponentially greater for chinese and then also asian american immigrants that there is particularly because the exclusion laws were stigma you know imagine you're the only group that it's not just that you're an immigrant and have that experience you're an
00:47:46immigrant who's part of a group which has been stigmatized by national federal law and not just one law you know piece of legislation after piece of legislation down through the early twentieth century which is saying these people are unfit to be american so already there's an a norma
00:48:04ce amount of complicated feeling surrounding this experience if you're if you're chinese american and later later when it's extended toe of asian americans and also because there was a profound sense of the injustice of it there was from the start of sense that we don't we will not
00:48:20be excluded And so you have the phenomenon well known at the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century of paper Sons What Our paper suns paper suns are people who have come over illegitimately under fraudulent circumstances Having been created a sort of like a paper
00:48:35platform has been made for them to come by maybe having it be made to seem that they are a child legitimate child of the chinese american already in the country and especially after the earthquake san francisco earthquake of nineteen oh six destroyed all the records It became increasingly
00:48:51possible if still you know always difficult for people to come under over under this fraudulent means Well what does that mean That means in an already stigmatize circumstances you have family secrets that cannot be spoken of people who you are quote related to who live on the other
00:49:07side of china tub but not really related to you speak about them but so there's this kind of family set of silences and shadows and things that are difficult to talk about that kind of known but not known and that becomes then part of the experience of families
00:49:24for generations and generations and that for people who who has scott long another one of our incredible historians discreet describes eloquently in the film you know there comes a moment in life there came a moment in the life of all chinese sons and daughters of paper suns when
00:49:40it kind of becomes apparent that right that's why we don't really talk about great grandpa that's why grandfather is kind of reticent about his experience so that silence that you know made you come to understand ellis island experience through novels was something that came down and sometimes hit
00:49:59with gale force power you know in midlife when suddenly the way to the past kind of came down with particular impact for chinese americans you know of subsequent generations who had to live with that and that that's another aspect of before lucien so it's permeates people's experience not
00:50:15just during the sixty two years of exclusion but continues to echo and you know have consequences and residences down literally two today and we're almost out of time i wish you had another hour but i wanted to share a personal story with both of you my great grandmother
00:50:31was a native american poem oh basket weaver from ukiah she was born in eighteen ninety nine and she and my grandma used to always talk about the not being able to go in stores or restaurants because there were no indians or dog signs in the windows the on
00:50:48ly restaurant in ukiah that allowed her family teo eat and sit down was a chinese restaurant they had to sit behind the curtain but the chinese allowed them to come in and eat when no other restaurant would but heroic fantastic way we can all take courage from that
00:51:07Really Yeah really incredible I wanted to ask you just quickly we have about a minute left art says What can we learn from the chinese american experience that can inform the way we react to the current actions by the trump administration and his followers Okay listen you know
00:51:23i grew up in ann arbor michigan so everybody will know i'm a dyed in the wool hippie and progressive but i'm also a kind of amateur student of history throughout much of my adult life There has never been a time when immigration has been a problem in this
00:51:38country every time there has been exclusion you know samuel johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels I think in our own day people who are sort of anti immigrant it becomes another refuge for ulterior motives There's a there you really cannot make the case that the
00:51:58chinese who came here were causing any trouble in fact it's very easy from the labor force to build the chinese the transcontinental railroad to the ten thousand lawsuits that gave meaning and body to american rule of law on and on and on for people who are hardworking who
00:52:14doubled down on the american dream who believed more strongly than native born americans themselves in the american principles and enlivened and enriched and made better the american experience that's true whether you are chinese american japanese american korean american mexican american european american ap from africa from south america
00:52:34way have been we have always benefited when our doors have been opened and when the doors begin to swing shut you could almost take for granted that that's for a moment that's exactly the moment to say what's really going on here what's really at stake ric burns and
00:52:54lee shin you are co directors of the chinese exclusion act It'll screen at the camp fest on sunday at seven o'clock at the castro theatre in san francisco Rick and lisa thank you so much for joining us Thank you thank you and thank you for listening I'm rose
00:53:08ocular it's your call

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