Jan/Feb 2022

e c l e c t i c a
s p o t l i g h t   a u t h o r


Marko Fong

(This is an excerpt—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Teaching Asian American History as Shadow Puppet Theater

Even if Jeopardy—should they ever find a new host—someday does Asian American History as a category, it's unlikely that you'll ever see "Who was Wong Chinn Foo for Two Hundred?" Wong Chinn Foo attended two American colleges, returned to China only to be expelled by the Manchus, and settled in the Eastern United States while making a name for himself as a surprisingly media savvy advocate for Chinese rights and the idea of the "Chinese American" (he appears to have been the first to use the term in print), a kind of Mandarin speaking Al Sharpton. Wong Chinn Foo publicly debated the Exclusion Act with Kearney and according to newspaper accounts generally prevailed. Does Wong Chinn Foo deserve to appear on the AP exam instead of Kearney? Quite possibly not. For one, he lost and Kearney won. Wong's influence was limited at best, making him more interesting than historical.