Between the Newsletters Blog

June 2020 

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June 23, 2020

Hi everyone. Apologies for not adding any new content to this blog until now.

We have the following article that we’d like to share with you.

Will the George Floyd Killing be the Final Straw?: A Summary of What I’ve Been Following and Some Thoughts

Leonard Chan

June 6, 2020

Ghosts of Gold Mountain is a valuable part of the education of any American into the wrought history of immigrant labor in America. How Asians were exploited from the start of their immigration history and whose individual voices remain unheard in mainstream media.

The unfortunate aspect of this book though is that the individual voices of Chinese American railroad workers remain silent. Despite extensive research by the author into American and Chinese sources, not a single Transcontinental Railroad workers’ testimony of their experiences has survived.

Men who were fully educated and literate in China were the least likely to have immigrated as a common railroad worker. Second, an immense amount of dislocation, disaster, ethnic cleansing, and wars, occurred in both China and the United States throughout the course of the 19th and 20th Centuries, during which time enormous piles of documents were left behind and destroyed. There is also the factor that nobody really thought it was important history to be preserved for its own merits.

What is left is isolated bits of family lore and broken testimony. There are also the well documented accounts of white engineers and railroad men through which some of the story can be indirectly inferred, but even that is inexact.

When describing casualties swept to their deaths in avalanches in the Sierra Nevada Mountains one engineer vaguely says something about two or three dozen swept away. Accustomed as we are now to OSHA standards of workplace investigations of any deaths, the shocking lassitude towards workplace deaths in the 19th Century shown by not being able to pinpoint a precise number of deaths in many mass accidents displays the general indifference towards the horrible conditions for the working class across American society at the time. When white children were still being worked to death in textile mills across America with little to no comment in the media, what news would the deaths of Chinese railroad workers make?

Those are important reasons to read this book, to realize just how interconnected the history of Asian immigration and the history of the American labor movement is, and how we are really all connected as Americans despite our differences today.

Philip Chin