As we ring in the Lunar Year of the Dragon (along with Warren Buffett, who played "I've Been Working on the Railroad" on his banjo (!?) to the Chinese people in honor of), President Obama reminds us that "we are stronger because of our diversity; we are richer because of the different cultures that make up this country." Having spent some time in Chicago, our President knows more about how the lunar year is celebrated there than most.
Most of us think of the massive, colorful celebrations on the West Coast or in New York when we think about how the "Chinese New Year" (or the Spring Festival, as it is known in China) is celebrated in the US. Far fewer know about the vibrant community of Chinese Americans that developed around the same time (late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries) as its coastal counterparts. In Chinese Chicago: Race, Transnational Migration, and Community Since 1870, Huping Ling offers the first comprehensive history of Chinese in Chicago, beginning with the arrival of the pioneering Moy brothers in the 1870s and continuing to the present.
Ling focuses on how race, transnational migration, and community have defined Chinese in Chicago. Drawing upon archival documents in English and Chinese, she charts how Chinese made a place for themselves among the multiethnic neighborhoods of Chicago, cultivating friendships with local authorities and consciously avoiding racial conflicts. Ling takes readers through the decades, exploring evolving family structures and relationships, the development of community organizations, and the operation of transnational businesses. She pays particular attention to the influential role of Chinese in Chicago's academic and intellectual communities and to the complex and conflicting relationships among today's more dispersed Chinese Americans in Chicago.
Enjoy, and Happy Lunar New Year!