Chinese-American history is a story that has no end; nor has it followed a simple, linear path. It has oftentimes been a story of contradictions—of isolation and assimilation, of rejection and acceptance. Until recently, Chinese-American history has largely been told from a perspective that does not take into account the voices and experiences of Chinese Americans themselves. At worst, this has resulted in a perception of Chinese Americans as culturally and physically inferior human beings, and threats to the American labor force. At best, Chinese immigrants have been regarded as a welcome addition to the “melting pot” of America, refugees who deserve to live in a democracy, and valuable assets to American academia and technology. The two units in this series explore Chinese-American history from the perspectives of Chinese Americans themselves. They aim to challenge the characterization of Chinese Americans as “silent sojourners”; passive victims of discriminatory laws and violence; and more recently, a “model minority” immigrant group.
Angel Island: The Chinese-American Experience is a graphic novel that tells the story of Chinese immigrants detained at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay between 1910 and 1940. It offers a stark contrast to the more celebrated stories of European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island on the East Coast and poses important questions about U.S. immigration policy, both past and present.