California Apologizes for Treatment of Chinese-Americans

Maybe it is too little, too late. But the California legislature just passed a resolution (ACR 42) this week to apologize for the historical discrimination and bigotry against Chinese immigrants, Chinese Americans and recognize their contributions to California.

Mark these words, which are applicable to all immigrants, and not just Chinese Americans:

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That diversity is one of our state’s greatest strengths, enabling California to thrive economically, agriculturally, technologically, academically, and politically at an international level. Our great state has relied on immigrants of all backgrounds to build our infrastructure, and integrating them into our society not only helps them prosper, but helps California prosper as well; and be it further

Resolved, That while this nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and while we pay tribute to the great American creed “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” which stands at the base of America’s Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope for all who live, and all who wish to live, in the United States of America, we recognize that the practices of our state and its government have not always honored that promise. Ours is a state with an imperfect history where intolerance spurred the enactment of unjust discriminatory laws that have too often denied minority groups access to the promise of America, that all men are created equal. Today that struggle continues, and learning from our past will help enable us to travel further down the path toward building a more perfect Union…”

Sponsored by De Leon and Paul Fong, the legislation is in lieu with resolutions that have apologized for slavery, for the internment of Japanese Americans and other injustices against minorities. Fong has also declared that he may press for a monument for those detained at Angel Island.

Most of the people to whom this resolution directly applies are no longer living. Now it is just a statement and reminder of how the United States treated immigrants at one point, and how we must stand against that exclusionary treatment.

It isn’t the apology that bothers me–it’s the fact that we continue to issue such statements while not putting them in present context and learning from history. When this nation finally apologizes for the treatment of our families, we would probably not be alive. The message is not to live for apologies, but inspite of them.

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