The key word in Asian American is AMERICAN. Don’t confuse us with the Federal Government’s attempt to blame its own problems on China. We have been Americans since the 1500s. The First Americans, Indigenous Americans, came from Asia too.
We have an Asian heritage through the Philippines, California, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. We are Jewish, Arab, Turk and Romani. We are Pakistani, Indian, and Bangladeshi. We are Thai, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Filipino. But most of all we are Americans.
Venice, Italy was the main European port for the Asian trade in silk and spices. Arab traders brought what we call Arabic numerals from India. Sultan Mehmed II’s conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453 caused Portuguese sailors to start exploring for a way to the Orient around Africa.
Jewish culture is an important part of Spanish culture and the culture of the Americas. Sephardic Jewish poets in Iberia wrote in Arabic for Muslim sultans and then in Spanish for Christian kingdoms. The Sephardi recovered the lost legacy of Greco-Roman culture from Greek and Latin books in the great Islamic libraries. Without this Western Civilization would not exist as we know it. When we work together, there are no limits.
Romani culture comes through the flamenco of Andalusia. By the way, the Romani people are originally from northern India. They absorbed bits of every culture between India and Spain. The fiery hands of flamenco are obviously related to Indian temple dancing.
Magellan brought Hispanic culture (mostly Christianity) to the Philippines in 1521 on the first voyage around the world (1519-1522). The day is still celebrated in the Philippines.
The Chinese island of Macao was a Portuguese trading port. After building the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad in the United States, Chinese workers built the railroads in the Caribbean. They were the first outsiders to really understand what had been done to Africans because after the legal end of human enslavement Chinese were the next workforce. The Spanish-Chinese restaurants of old New York were a legacy of Chinese in Cuba. The Puerto Rican Jíbaro (mountain farmers) have Chinese blended-in.
Indian culture also arrived in the West Indies after the end of legal human enslavement. The Caribbean culture of Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana has strong East Indian influences, even demographic pluralities. The Indian city of Goa was a Portuguese trading port. People continued speaking Portuguese there until the last generation.
[From the Editor: I was raised in Los Angeles and Bangkok, Thailand. As a child, I noticed that Mexican grandmothers and Chinese grandmothers often look like sisters. We now know that Indigenous Americans came from Siberia, and maybe across the sea from Oceania. When I see Indigenous peoples of Colombia and Brazil, I get the strongest feeling that they are part of my family from Thailand. The farther south you go, the more Indigenous people look like my Southeast Asian family. DNA studies have now confirmed the long-suspected link between Polynesians and South Americans.]
Anna May Wong was the First Chinese American Hollywood Movie Star
Wong Liu Tsong (1905-1961) was a silent film era actress. She acted in one of the first color movies, “The Toll of the Sea” in 1922. She is also remembered for “The Thief of Bagdad” by Douglas Fairbanks in 1924. This made her an international star.