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My Mother’s Secrets

She thought she was protecting her children by not telling us her harrowing tale of fleeing China. [My essay first appeared in The New York Times on January 19, 2019] Growing up in the 1950s as one of the few Chinese-American kids in my New Jersey town, I was so often told to “go back where youcame from” that I wondered about this place called China, where I had never been. But whenever I asked my mother about her young life in China, I always received the same curt answer: “That was wartime, unhappy memory.” Over time, I stopped asking. Until one day, when she was in her 70s and we were having dinner in her small apartment, I lapsed into my childhood mantra. “Too bad you can’t tell me about…
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Are you a Citizen?

The Stealth Citizenship Question from US Census: It pays to read your mail --I received some form letter that I thought was junkmail at first, but it turned out that I was randomly (?) selected to answer the AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY, which is produced by the the US Census Bureau. It is NOT the actual census itself, which must be done in 2020, as it has been every decade since 1790. Among its many uses and benefits, the Census helps determine what communities get government funding -- and how electoral district lines get drawn to choose our lawmakers. It's the gerrymandering and manipulation of such data that brought in the current gang of crooks and supremacists to DC -- and they are using their powers to run the next census…
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Who’s Chinese and Asian American? Paula Madison!

Who’s Chinese and Asian American? Paula Madison!

I traveled to Washington, DC to the United Chinese Americans convention to speak on a panel about the civil rights legacy of Asian Americans on September 28, 2018. I had never been to a UCA event before, though I had heard of the fine work by Haipei Shue to support Sherry Chen, Xiaoxing Xi and other law-abiding Chinese Americans against the trumped up arrests and persecution by FBI and feds under the guise of “national security.” I was eager to get to know the UCA, as well as to join the panel with Frank Wu, John Yang and Floyd Mori, all terrific API community advocates. Our plenary session seemed to go well, but when audience questions were invited, a hand shot up: it was my journalist colleague and friend from…
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Trump Deportations Worse than during McCarthy Era Inquisitions

Trump Deportations Worse than during McCarthy Era Inquisitions

My mother and father had separately fled from China in the mid-20th Century. They met in New York City, both exiles from war, revolution and chaos. My father believed that if he returned to China, he'd be arrested, persecuted, even killed because of his strong opinions about its government. My mother had also fled China, escaping from Shanghai in May 1949 with her sister’s family, just before the Communists marched in to that cosmopolitan city. (more…)
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