SAPAHM Guest: Amara Royce on George Takei

Hi friends! Gosh I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of May. Where has this month gone?!?! I’ve been really sick for most of this month, so I apologize for not being more “on it.” That’s not the important thing though. What is important, is that we have Amara Royce visiting with us today! Yes, another wonderful APAHM participant! May has been an embarrassment of riches, just like February and March! <3 Without further ado, Amara!

It’s an honor and a pleasure to be among the wonderful guests celebrating APAHM with Limecello and with all of you fine people!

As a writer of historical romance, I’m fascinated by history and, in particular, the intersections of different cultures in history. But today I’m not going to talk about my own writing. Instead, in what might win me the “Has Been Living under a Rock” award, I want to talk to you about the biopic To Be Takei and why you absolutely must see it! I know, I know. You probably all know about it already, and I’m behind the times. But just in case…

To Be Takei is a fascinating documentary about the life and career of actor/activist George Takei, who is most known for his role as Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek series and films. In case you’re not already familiar with Star Trek, the series was ground-breaking in terms of diversity on the small screen. Considering the fact that it’s still rare to see Asian men in regular series roles, the fact that Star Trek included an Asian male pilot and an African American female communications officer is remarkable, and I’m sure seeing that diverse crew, one that acted as if diversity was normal—because it is or at least it should be—made a huge impact on me during my formative years.

Never Too LateBut the documentary isn’t just about Takei’s work as an actor on the show. In fact, that’s only one small facet of the film, which ranges from Takei’s childhood memories of living in a Japanese internment camp in Arkansas to his struggles with Hollywood typecasting of Asian actors to his marriage to husband Brad Altman. So many vivid and touching and sometimes deeply frustrating moments as we witness what he had his family (and, by extension, so many others in similar situations) went through! (There’s also now a musical based on Takei’s experience entitled Allegiance; it will be coming to Broadway in fall 2015.

The film moves swiftly, almost jumpily, and I suspect that’s because there’s just so much cover. Thoughtful, amusing, sweet, and sometimes heartbreaking, To Be Takei is, I think, a wonderful way to celebrate APAHM and to remind ourselves of the living history around us. Takei himself appears effervescent and indomitable and inspiring.

Coincidentally, this month Takei was awarded the 2015 JANM Distinguished Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement and Public Service by the Japanese American National Museum.

If you haven’t seen To Be Takei, go now!

Always a StrangerIt’s available on DVD and also on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon instant video, YouTube (rental or purchase), and other platforms!

If you have already seen it, well, it couldn’t hurt to watch it again!

So here’s a question for you: What TV shows or movies or books have you found particularly groundbreaking and why?

Amara is giving away a $10 gift card (Amazon or Barnes and Noble) to one lucky commenter!

About Amara: Amara Royce writes historical romances that combine her passion for 19th-century literature and history with her addiction to Happily Ever Afters. She teaches English literature and composition at a community college in Pennsylvania. When she isn’t writing, she’s either grading papers or reveling in her own happily ever after with her remarkably patient family. Website. Twitter. Facebook. Kensington Page.

Remember to answer Amara’s question – inquiring minds want to know – remember, groundbreaking things! Yay!

SAPAHM Guest: Cecilia Tan

Hi friends! We’ve got first time guest Cecilia Tan with us today to celebrate APAHM! Ms. Tan just won the RT Career Achievement Award for Erotic Romance – so anyone who attended RT15 and went to the awards ceremony would have heard her speak. How cool! I’m really glad she agreed to be a guest here, so everyone please give her a warm welcome!

When They Said Multicultural, It Wasn’t Me They Meant
by Cecilia Tan

The Incubus and the Angel: Magic University Book Three I have been a professional writer for several decades now–all the way back into my teens if you want to count the columns and articles I wrote for magazines like Superteen and Teen Machine. But fiction has always been my passion and I sold my first short story in 1992. In the ensuing 23 years, I’ve often gotten this question: “why don’t you write about Asians?”

Sometimes the question comes couched in compliment–“You’re so good, you could be the next Amy Tan.”–or in misguided advice–“Asian women’s lit is hot right now. You could have a bestseller if you market your identity.” Other times it stems from flat-out racist assumptions: “You should write what you know.”

The problem with all these versions of the question, actually, is that they all depend on my “Asianness” being the thing that defines me as “other,” and in all cases that “otherness” trumps my individuality in the mind of the person asking the question. (Even Asians other me with this question, because they do it within the assumed context of book publishing being white-dominated. Which it is.)

The Tower and the Tears: Magic University Book TwoThe reality of my otherness is actually a lot more complicated than me being “Asian.” What I actually am is a Chinese-filipino Irish Welsh bisexual. I don’t have a cute acronym or a club to belong to or a telegenic marketable identity. If I’m supposed to write “what I know” then what I know is about being ambiguous, about being mistaken constantly for the wrong ethnicity, wrong sexuality, even the wrong gender. (I’m short and I’ve got hair down to my waist yet I get called “sir” in public all the time. I assume it’s because people are so confused about identifying me that the whole part of their brain that categorizes people into strict boxes just goes haywire when they see me.)

So really, the only thing it makes sense for me to write is fiction about “others,” literally. Vampires, beings from other planets, angels, mermaids, gods. Paranormal romance, science fiction, fantasy: these are the genres where I “fit.”

Slow SurrenderBelieve me, I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to pursue being “the next Amy Tan.” I was graduating from college right when The Joy Luck Club was first published. I received several copies of it as graduation gifts, in fact. Here’s where I confess never finished reading the book. I read part of it and didn’t feel I needed to read the rest. Why? I felt I knew the book already. I was surprised by nothing in it. I didn’t have the vocabulary or the mode of thought at the time to express what bothered me so much about the book.

Ultimately I came to realize that the reason I could not be the “next Amy Tan” was two-fold. One, Amy Tan was already occupying that “slot.” Just as Tiger Woods did not open the door for hordes of black athletes to enter the sport of golf, the success of Amy Tan did not create a new genre and create a new shelf to be filled with Asian-American women writers. Two, that “slot” in particular irked me: it felt to me like what was so imminently marketable about Amy Tan was that what she did was so palatable to the mainstream (i.e. mostly white) reader. Don’t get me wrong: Amy Tan is a talented and wonderful writer. But her Chinese generational story hit a note to me that rang like an expectation: she met white readers’ expectations very exactly about what a Chinese-American woman’s book “should” be.

Slow SeductionI knew I could not pursue that path: I could not turn my Asianness into something expected, because my identity is never what people expect. And if identity is muse, then the only direction it made sense for me to go was into the realm of “other.” Paranormal romance in particular has been a rich vein to mine because it both acknowledges the mainstream’s fears about the other (vampires and werewolves ARE monsters) while at the same time embracing the others–whether we have a vampire love interest or even a paranormal protagonist. (Or both, as in Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling books.)

The genres of sf, fantasy, and paranormal are also rife with tropes that turn questionable origins into virtues. High fantasy is rife with half-elves; Mr. Spock is half-Vulcan, half-human. Superheroes have alter egos, while demigods and shifters are just another metaphor for changeability, for the fact that we–or at least I–contain multitudes.

Slow SatisfactionBut of course I do: I’m a writer. Ultimately any writer has to write about characters who are not themselves–when characters are too obviously a self-insert we label that a “Mary Sue” and an amateur gaffe. But maybe that’s the secret: when a writer does it well, all her characters may be her, but there are many many facets of her. Okay, I won’t be coy: all my characters are me in some way, the heroes and the villains, the love interests and the spear carriers. I don’t know if that’s because my “identity” couldn’t be easily labeled with one simple word so I always had to have many masks and many hats to wear, or if–really–all writers have a small army crowding their heads. I can only write what I know.

Author bio: Cecilia Tan is the winner of the Career Achievement Award in Erotic Writing given by RT Book Reviews Magazine and was inducted into the Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame for GLBT Writers in 2010. She is the author of many books including Slow Surrender, The Prince’s Boy, The Velderet, Black Feathers, and the Magic University series. She is currently at work on a paranormal series for Tor Books entitled The Vanished Chronicles.

Thanks for sharing, Cecilia! So, my question to you is … what makes you “just like everyone else” … and then what makes you “other”? Did you ever feel like you fell into a niche … or that one just didn’t seem to exist for you?

TBR Challenge Review: It Must Be Your Love by Bella Andre

It Must Be Your Love by Bella Andre
Contemporary romance released by Oak Press, LLC on November 20, 2013

It Must Be Your LoveSuccessful Seattle Realtor Mia Sullivan is nobody’s fool…apart from that one week five years ago when she gave her heart to a sexy musician who gave her nothing in return but a few sinfully perfect days—and nights—in his bed. Though she swears she never wants to see him again, he’s the one man she’s never been able to forget.

One of the hottest rock stars in the world, Ford Vincent can have any woman he wants…except Mia Sullivan. But he knows millions of strangers singing along with his songs can’t fill the hole inside him. Only Mia’s love has the power to do that—so he vows to do anything and everything it takes to win her heart again.

From the first moment they see each other again, intense sparks of attraction fly. But can Mia and Ford finally rediscover a love strong enough to last forever?

I’ve wanted to read the Sullivan books for quite some time. I’ve started a few, but life always happened, so I’m really happy I made the effort to read It Must Be Your Love.​ I want to say this is the first time I’ve intentionally broke TBR review challenge “protocol.” I did initially plan on reading a book that was published 10 years ago. I got a lot of great suggestions and decided to read one that is basically universally loved. … I couldn’t get into it. I’m not going to say which book because I don’t want to be pilloried and run out of the community. I decided to read It Must Be Your Love because it’s basically hit all my reader buttons. Successful heroine, rockstar hero, hero that is desperately in love, and lots of hero grovel. Yes please. It also is perfect (in my mind) because it’s also APAHM, and Bella Andre was the first guest of the month.

I usually talk about the character individually, but today I want to address another aspect first. Mia Sullivan ​is the youngest sibling with four older brothers. I think that really helped build her character. It gave her a great backstory, support network, and explained how she’s so strong and independent. As someone who wanted to tag along with her older brothers and as a girl she always had to work that much harder to keep up, and be kept in the fun. It’s a contributing factor to what drove her in childhood and stayed with her, making her an incredibly successful realtor with her own business at age 28. (I’m sure her family and their connections helped too, but the book doesn’t focus on that.) Mia knows who she is and what she wants. I liked that she made Ford work for it, but she didn’t act to her (or their) detriment out of pride. Mia’s a great girl and she’s someone you want as your best friend. In fact it wouldn’t hurt being her either.

Ford Vincent was an interesting twist in my opinion, with his “poor little rich boy” back story. I liked that he didn’t let it damage or define him though. Sure it affected him, but didn’t let that hold him back. Mia and Ford have their history from five years back, and while he was an asshole, I don’t think his childhood was the deciding factor. In fact I think any guy around 25 (the book actually never says Ford’s current age) with the world at his feet would have made the same demands and assumptions that he as the rockstar should have his way. Full stop. I like that from the beginning of the book once he makes up his mind to see Mia he is all in. All the way. He’s willing to make the same “sacrifices” he asked Mia to make five years ago. It’s quite the gesture.

Breaking more protocol, no real character analysis this time because while I think Mia and Ford are great, it’s the usual suspect of adjectives thrown out there. Definitely they’re people that you’ll enjoy reading about – and would want to know in real life too. They’re friendly, fun, loving, and grounded. Throw in the massive success and wealth? What’s not to love.

The romance picks up pretty much as soon as Mia and Ford meet again. It’s as if they never spent five years apart, which I found interesting. Mia makes noises and some lip service about resisting at first but in actuality does nothing of the sort. That, and the fact that (in her mind) the relationship was so “all or nothing” bothered me. Those were the only two things. On Ford’s part, it made sense, because he has to show that he’s willing to make the grand gesture by “giving up everything” – the lifestyle he’s had since ~highschool, and has changed. On Mia’s part … I wondered where her basic problem solving skills went.

The writing and characterization in It Must Be Your Love are of course excellent. Bella Andre is a wonderful writer and story teller, and everything fits in so seamlessly you don’t even think about how many little details there are that all work together. I liked fact that Ms. Andre paints a vivid picture of each character’s life, but doesn’t get bogged down in the descriptions. You get the feel of how much Mia loves houses and her jobs. How Ford commands a stadium when playing a show. Their families and the love – or lack thereof. It was a good balance I think of Mia and Ford, and with Mia as the one dragging her feet it was nice to see her family encouraging her. (Or her brothers acting like … hilarious awesome stereotypical big brothers.)

I definitely recommend It Must Be Your Love to anyone who enjoys contemporary romances, and I’m glad there’s such a backlist for me to go through. The Sullivans are a really large family, and there’s something for everyone, with a variety of characters and professions, I’m sure there’s “reader catnip” for all in this series.

Grade: B

You can buy a copy here.

SAPAHM Guest: Grace Wen

Hi friends! Today we have Grace Wen visiting with us today! I don’t think we’ve ever had a post like this before, and I think it’s really cool. Grace is also part of the Smithsonian Heritage Month series, specifically, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! I think it’s really cool how food and culture is so intertwined – and how Asians especially seem to be touching on the subject this month. 😉 Hey – with so much good food, why not, right? Anyway I think Grace leaves the best closing here possible, so I’ll just leave her – and you all to it! Michigan cuisine ahoy! [And you’ll see I’m on my best behavior for SAPAHM because I didn’t even make any snarky comments about that state up north! … >.> I mean…] *angelface* 😉

Asian Americans in MichiganDuring the first few years of my career, I wrote articles for food magazines and book proposals for local chefs. Although I write mostly fiction now, I have an essay in the book Asian-Americans In Michigan where I share my experience as an ABC (American Born Chinese) who rarely cooks or eats Chinese food.

I credit my parents for my eclectic tastes. My childhood family meals could contain Campbell’s soup or Kentucky Fried Chicken one day, stir-fried vegetables or rice porridge with dried fish and pickles the next. My earliest cooking memories with my mom include making everything from potstickers to Little House On The Prairie cookbook dishes to classic Quaker Oats oatmeal raisin cookies. We even have a family baklava recipe, which was given to us by a Lebanese friend thirty-five years ago. I may be Chinese, but my food habits reflect America’s delicious diversity. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I found two other Asian-American authors who write about their connections with food and Michigan:

Coney Detroit by Katherine Yung and Joe Grimm

Katherine Yung and co-author Joe Grimm deep-dive into one of the signature foods of Michigan, and Detroit in particular–coney dogs. Coneys are natural casing hot dogs cradled in a steamed bun and topped with beanless chili, mustard, and chopped onions. It takes practice to eat it one-handed without dripping sauce on your clothes, but it’s yummy, worthwhile practice. In southeastern Michigan, you can often find a coney island restaurant nearly every mile. Some, like the legendary Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island in downtown Detroit, are next door to each other. I live within walking distance to three coney islands myself.

Yung writes that her husband inspired her love for coneys. That love shines through as she explores the history of coney islands and coney culture, visits the local manufacturers that supply the Detroit area’s many coney islands, discovers food spinoffs (coney pizza, anyone?), and even interviews a Michigan artist who creates coney-themed art.

Stealing Buddha's Dinner

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen

Bich Minh Nguyen writes poignantly about her tumultuous childhood as a Vietnamese immigrant in 80s-era Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her grandmother cooked traditional specialties such as spring rolls, beef satay, shrimp chips, and red bean cakes, and her Latina stepmother introduced her to tamales, arroz con pollo, and empanadas, but Nguyen longed to have what other kids had: Cheetos, Bundt cakes, candy bars, Spaghetti-Os, Little Debbie snack cakes. To her, those foods represented what it meant to be a “real” American.

Nguyen uses food to illustrate the vast differences between her and her neighbors. Her best friend rejected the Vietnamese food Nguyen’s grandmother made, and lunchtime was fraught with anxiety as students compared the contents of each other’s lunch bags. In one chapter, Nguyen devotes ten pages to food descriptions in books, recognizing that the white protagonists in the stories she loved, such as Laura Ingalls, Jo March, and Harriet the Spy, represented girls she wished she could be. In the end, as she made spring rolls with her grandmother, she embraced the multiple cultures in her life instead of rejecting them, accepting that she can never become like her blonde friends no matter how much “real” American food and culture she ingested.

Gastronome Jean-Antheme Brillat-Savarin said, “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.” Readers, how does food reflect who you are, where you’re from, and where you live now? Has it changed over time?

SAPAHM: Vicki Essex

Hi friends!! So we have Vicki Essex visiting with us today! She’s also participating in SAPAHM, and this year Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is welcome to all! (Also Canada is part of North America, so that counts right?) 😉 I love these posts about identity and experience, and I hope you’re enjoying them too – and maybe learning something?

The Futility of Cultural Self-Identity When No One Believes You By Vicki Essex

A Recipe for ReunionWhat are you?”

While I will usually answer this racially loaded question with a raised eyebrow, I generally don’t appreciate the follow up I sometimes get:

Are you sure?”

Or “Really? I thought you were _______.”

Or “Funny, I don’t even think of you as ______. I think of you as _______. ”

At one point in my life, when I got this response, I’d felt as though I’d disappointed someone with my answers. Only recently did I realize the complex mix of frustration, bafflement and sometimes anger was cluing me into the fact that I’ve long suffered from a cultural self-identity crisis.

Had I been unconsciously trying to meet others’ perceived cultural expectations? Conversely, what if my identity had been swinging from one end of a spectrum to the other in some attempt to counter those expectations?

[Ok, so I just have to add this here… all me, so hopefully Vicki finds it entertaining too…]

Preface: I was born, raised and have lived all my life in downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest and most diverse city. I attended inner-city schools whose populations at the time consisted of over 60 per cent Asian students, mostly of Cantonese-speaking Chinese descent. Almost all of my close friends were Chinese. My school provided concurrent Cantonese language classes, and my parents spoke Cantonese to me at home. I lived in Chinatown, and I was never lacking for world-class Chinese cuisine. I have always been proud of my heritage. I celebrate traditional holidays with family, adhere to some of the stranger customs and superstitions and generally respect the cultural teachings and beliefs my family instilled in me.

And yet, despite this immersion, I was never quite “Chinese enough.” Not to my friends, not to people I’d known for years, not to my family, and apparently, not to complete strangers, who tend to remark on my “perfect English,” or more accurately, my complete lack of Chinese language skills.

It’s true, I don’t speak Cantonese very well. I can barely understand one out of four words, and can only piece together what people are saying based on context. Forget about reading and writing Chinese—despite all those years in concurrent, after-school and Saturday classes, I could never retain the learn-by-rote grammarless, alphabetless language.

In Her CornerThis unfortunate deficiency has long been a sore point for me. Electing to leave Cantonese classes in grade six represented a complete and utter failure and final surrender on my part. I’d always been studious, earning top marks in all my classes; discouraged by failing marks in Chinese class, my confidence waned. What most people assumed should’ve been second nature by dint of genetics and exposure completely eluded my comprehension.

Giving up made me feel worthless, like I was running away from something important. I was incapable and unworthy of “preserving my heritage,” and no one could ever trust me to be a representative of it. By stopping my Cantonese classes, I was diving straight into the insidious Western melting pot. I was supposed to be part of the big, colorful Canadian cultural mosaic; instead, I was sinking into the grout between the jagged seams.

I knew my parents were disappointed. I knew my friends were baffled—after all, how could someone who got such high marks in everything else fail to learn “my own language”?

The thing was, my own language was English. I watched Canadian and American TV and films exclusively. My sisters and I had never taken any interest in the chapter movies coming out of Hong Kong that were so popular among my friends. I listened to oldies and classic rock radio stations, preferring the Beach Boys and the Beatles and David Bowie over the Cantopop my friends loved to sing at karaoke. I read only English books.

And so, I grew up slightly apart from my more fluent friends. I mastered the smile and nod with my Chinese-speaking elders, or else floundered through a simple request.

It wasn’t until I was in university that I realized I was actually part of a racial minority. It was a bit of culture shock—I could count the visible minorities in my journalism program on two hands, and the Asian students on one. Out of habit, I tried to befriend those few familiar faces, but I soon found I had as little in common with them as anyone else. “What they were” didn’t factor into any part in our relationships, or lack thereof.

Back to the Good Fortune DinerI saw little of my high school friends during university. We’d all drifted apart, gathering only occasionally for big events and holidays. I did see other high school acquaintances, ones I hadn’t spent a lot of time in school with. It was at an open mic night event that I had this out-of-the-blue epiphany:

Oh, my God,” I exclaimed to my friend in a whisper, “I’m the only Asian person in this whole room.”

My friend turned to me. “Oh. Weird, I don’t even think of you that way.”

Suddenly self-conscious, I assumed “that way” meant “as an outsider.” Was it because I was a part of the scenery? A fixture as a regular attendee at the weekly event? Or maybe my friend meant he didn’t think of me as Asian. Was I really so “Canadian” that my identity as a hyphenated citizen had been nullified?

Regardless of whether I blended in or not, something inside me rebelled at the idea that I was not who I thought I was. I’ve dwelled on it often over the years. I’d self-identified with the tongue-in-cheek pejorative terms “banana” (yellow on the outside, white on the inside), “whitewashed,” and “jook sing” (Cantonese for “hollow bamboo”) to indicate to others I was CBC (Canadian Born Chinese) and lacked the language skills they expected from me. But now those terms held a little more weight. Ostensibly, I was neither here nor there, an alien among my own people, adoptable by the “others” but not completely. After all, I couldn’t change my skin tone or eye shape. No matter what situation I found myself in, I would forever be asked the question “What are you?”

My identity swung back toward a greater “Chinese-ness” when I started dating my husband, John, who is white. I knew pursuing a long-term relationship with him would mean some compromise on both our parts, but it also brought me closer to my heritage. Never was I more aware of the differences between Western and Chinese culture than I was navigating our separate cultural social protocols.

Her Son's HeroI had to teach him all the niceties I took for granted—the little things like tapping the table to thank someone when they poured tea for him, or never jamming your chopsticks straight up in your food (it makes it look like burning incense for the dead). I never took for granted, though, the challenges John faced. He spent a whole week eating Asian cuisine at the food court just so he could learn how to use chopsticks and not embarrass himself at my parents’ dinner table. Now my relatives can’t pass a meal without commenting on how good his form is.

John and I have been married for nearly five years now. We still encounter the odd person who can’t help but point out how somehow I’m the “different one” in our relationship. Questioning my cultural identity—or even simply pointing it out to me—irks me now more than ever. Part of me wants to believe people are just curious. But I know when people aren’t asking out of curiosity and are simply pointing it out, as if they’re unmasking me with a triumphant “Aha!”

For the record, I do not like it when people do that. It’s not that I don’t want them to ask—I just don’t need them to tell me I’m somehow wrong, as if I’ve disappointed them. I’m not here validate or negate anyone’s preconceived notions of who I am or what they believe me to represent. I have enough neuroses without having to deal with them telling me I don’t know myself. And I certainly don’t need someone holding a mirror up to me and pointing it out, as if I don’t know what I am.

But what are you really?”

The real question is, does it really matter?

So … confess. Have you ever committed this faux pas? I think it also matters if you know a person or don’t. I mean, if you’ve already established a relationship of sorts with a person before you delve into their background/ethnicity. Also it’s just different if the person is a [minority]. If you’re not Asian Pacific American, do you have friends who are? Have you ever heard them lament this type of treatment? One commenter will win a copy of A Recipe for Reunion.


SAPAHM: Chinese Massacre of 1871 in L.A.

“The largest incident of mass lynching in American history.

So … I’m not really sure how to go about writing this post. I know most (all) of the Heritage Month posts that I’ve put up are celebratory. And basically all the posts here generally. I’m not posting an image because the only ~relevant one I can find is a group of the corpses which … no. I’m not really going to say much more because I just want to put the information out there. I might add my thoughts later … I might not.

Despite going against the grain, I think this is a really important topic, and it speaks to an area of Heritage. And little known history. I learned about the incident some time last year while researching a different Heritage topic/group. I was … shocked. I mean, I knew of course that Asian [Pacific] Americans experience racism just like any other minority group in America. I also knew a little bit about the horrible conditions of railroad workers and the like – The Chinese Exclusion Acts … (America really hated Asians…) but … I had no idea that the victims of [one of] the largest mass lynching in American history was a group of Chinese Americans. If you’re like me, I think you’d have assumed that dubious title would be attributed to some atrocity in the south against African Americans. But no.

At least 17 Chinese men and boys were lynched as a result of the incident. Most of them were innocent of any wrong doing. It appears that only one had been a bad actor (and fired bullets into a crowd indiscriminately). Some articles say eighteen, others nineteen men  and boys were lynched. And … isn’t it that much more of a tragedy that what are legitimate sources report different numbers.

The greatest unsolved murders in Los Angeles’ history — bloodier than the Black Dahlia, more coldly vicious than the hit on Bugsy Siegel — occurred on a cool fall night in 1871. Seventeen Chinese men and boys, including a popular doctor, were hanged by an angry mob near what is now Union Station, an act so savage that it bumped the Great Chicago Fire off the front page of The New York Times.

That’s a quote from an article in LA Weekly. I had a really difficult time reading that article. Here’s another quote that describes the incident – with one man protesting the mob action. It also gives you a snapshot of the sentiment toward (against) Chinese Americans at the time.

Goller was a model citizen, a former city councilman, respectful husband and dutiful father. He objected bitterly as the Chinese were hoisted outside his windows. There are small children inside, he protested.

“You dry up, you son of a bitch,” growled a teamster as he leveled a rifle at Goller.

As the Chinese were hauled up, a man on the porch roof danced a jig and gave voice to the resentment many Americans felt over the Chinese willingness to work for low wages. “Come on, boys, patronize home trade,” the man sang out.

The bloodlust was not only in the men. A woman who ran a boardinghouse across the street from Goller’s shop volunteered clothesline to be cut up for nooses.

“Hang them,” she screamed.

A boy came running from a dry goods shop. “Here’s a rope,” he called helpfully.

Of all the Chinese in Los Angeles, Dr. Gene Tong was probably the most eminent and beloved among both his countrymen and Americans. He could have made much more money hanging his shingle in the American part of town. But Tong stayed in the Alley, dispensing both traditional and modern cures from a small shop in the decrepit Coronel Building.

As Tong was dragged along the street, he tried to strike a bargain with his captors. He could pay a ransom, he said. He had $3,000 in gold in his shop. He had a diamond wedding ring. They could have it all.

Instead of negotiating, one of his captors shot him in the mouth to silence him. Then they hanged him, first cutting off his finger to steal the ring.

Eight men were convicted, but their convictions were almost immediately “thrown out for a bizarre technical oversight by the prosecution.” No one was prosecuted again.

This incident appears to have stemmed from conflict between two existing Chinese factions – but I think this tragedy can be considered as both a separate and a whole. There were rival gangs warring, an officer went into Chinatown and was shot, which led to a mob of [whites] descending on the area and just … destroying Chinatown.

You can read the JSTOR article here, which gives you the background as well.

These were the instructions the judge gave to the jury for the lynching trial. (I screencapped the JSTOR article.)

One of the judges I used to work with would swear in witnesses, ordering them to tell the truth “as you shall answer on to God.” Pretty heavy stuff.

5 Things About Me

Hi Y’all! So, a long time ago Ki tagged me (on Facebook :X) in one of those “five things about me!” posts. And … I really wanted to do it but then I never ~got a chance to – and figured then I’d do it on the blog but you know how 2014 went … and then 2015 I was trying to do stuff and trucking along, but then I saw this empty space on the calendar and I hope to god I don’t get some “hey I thought I had that date email.” … >.>


That Scandalous EveningErm … five things you don’t know about me. I actually can’t even quite remember what the task was? So I’m going with the general gist. [I bet I have it right though!]

1. I love skating on carpet. I don’t know if I’ll ever outgrow it. What do I mean? Getting a pretty good buildup, and then just sliding on your bare – or socked (stockinged…) feet. This is why I hate berber. No sliding there. Well, one of the reasons I hate it. I don’t know if I’ll ever outgrow carpet skating. Not for a long, long time I think. So … maybe in my 40s? Later? Possibly about the time I’m too embarrassed or old to go by Limecello?

2. I’m pretty sure I have [undiagnosed] ADD. Come on now – as if we got tested for things like that when I was a kid. Or at least, it definitely wasn’t the norm. That’s like … a 00s phenomenon! Sidenote: I basically ADORE ALL ANIMALS. Unfortunately, I’m also allergic to them. It’s a cruel cosmic joke.
… Wait what was I supposed to be doing? >.>

3. I think I love the idea, concept, practice of baking things … more than baked goods themselves. Sure, some things I’ll probably gorge and eat myself sick. But generally? I’d rather give it away than eat it. Or like … cupcakes. I LOVE cupcakes. Or so I think. I love looking at them, talking about them, even getting them. But eating said cupcakes? … I don’t know. Maybe I’ve built up cupcakes so much I’m destined to be disappointed. … Or maybe I haven’t yet found the ultimate cupcake and cannot give up my noble quest!!! So you know, send me cupcakes. Please? *angelface* 😉 I’ve got a birthday coming up … 😀

4. “Small towns” freak me out. As in, the actually isolated ones. (Not the ones in romances that pretend to be an island but really are like … walking distance (long walk, admittedly) between city borders, and whatever, Martha, but I just can’t comprehend living in town of less than 2,000. [Less than 10,000 if I’m being honest … and even that is too small for me…] But all these stories (of real people!) with their towns of less than a hundred and or high schools of less than 100 and I like … get itchy and panicky. No. How does that even work?!?!? Why??!?! How do you get things?! Or alone time?! Or away from people??? Or have any sort of anonymity?!?!? Although I guess I don’t know how isolated some towns of 1,000 or so are. BUT WHY ARE THERE SO FEW PEOPLE? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT PLACE?
… >.> Clearly I did not grow up in, nor have I ever lived in the country. … Nor do I ever plan on doing so.

The Bride and the Beast5. If I could live on the east coast/in east coast time but operate on pacific time I think I’d be the happiest little girl in the world. I’m naturally a night owl, so this whole adulting and working and shit is … for the goddamn birds. And I’m not a bird.

… We’ll do a serious APAHM post later. … Probably much later so I don’t feel this little blip of mine is too inane. Heh. My fingers typed “insane” first despite my brain sending the instructions to type “inane” so it’s both, most likely. So yeah! That’s my five random things about me I don’t think I’ve ever blurted out to the world wide web before!

How about you? What’s a little known secret about you? And uh … to bring APAHM into this at least a little … what’s your favorite Asian food? 😀 [Oh and the covers are just … books I like that I think are under appreciated :P]