I spent the day at the Chinese Historical Society of America. This first photo is a piece of embroidery was made by a woman “detained” inside Angel Island (a very different experience from Ellis Island). By not widely teaching this history and learning from it, we condemn ourselves to continue to repeat it.
Unlike Ellis Island, where Europeans were subject to restrictions that precluded entrance for some but not most immigrants, the Angel Island Immigration Station employed discriminatory policies that were used to prevent Asians from immigrating. This approach was an outgrowth and implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which had resulted from years of racial hostility by white Americans against immigrant Chinese labourers.
Did you know that birthright citizenship was secured by a supreme court case that was brought by a Chinese American born in SF? Did you know that the Chinese being prevented from participating in two branches of government by the Chinese Exclusion Act, banded together to file judicial cases and appeals relentlessly?
I did not know the architect, Julia Morgan, designed this structure. The building was formally a YWCA, with separate entrances for Chinese women and white women. What a unique opportunity to learn about the contributions of Chinese Americans and what they have suffered to pave the way for the current generation.
When you are done visiting, you can walk a few steps to fabulous Chinese Bakeries and restaurants or the fortune cookie factory since you are in SF’s Chinatown. They even provide you with maps to them inside the museum.
If you want to do something off the beaten path, this place is a definite possibility.