Seattle Takes Steps to Recognize Minorities’ Role in Shaping Region

In “Seattle Takes Steps to Recognize Minorities’ Role in Shaping Region,” The New York Times reports on Seattle’s troubled racist past and efforts to bring historical context and recognition of this past: “This year, two new museums and a new traditional gate marking the city’s Chinatown will be completed, formally acknowledging the role minority groups have played in shaping Seattle and the region — even as those roles are changing…In fact, the locations of the new museums — the Northwest African American Museum at the edge of the Central District and the newly expanded Wing Luke Asian Museum in what is now called the International District — are directly linked to the city’s troubled racial history. The neighborhoods became concentrated with minorities beginning in the 19th century because discriminatory housing policies prevented Asians, blacks and other groups from living elsewhere… This spring, the Wing Luke museum, named for the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Northwest, will reopen after a major expansion into a historic building in the Chinatown section of the International District. The move comes as the Asian population, which makes up 13 percent of both the city and King County, has also been leveling off in the city but increasing in the suburbs. This Saturday, the new Chinatown gate will be formally opened, more than half a century after it was conceived and at a time when many well-established residents of Chinese descent return to Chinatown mostly just for dinner, and sometimes warily, because of an increase in crime and panhandling.”

I’ve known that Washington elected the first and only Chinese-American governor, Gary Locke, so I found it a bit ironic to hear about Seattle’s discriminatory past. Then again, I guess I should be so surprised since the United States government did pass the Chinese Exclusionary acts. I haven’t spent that much time in Seattle, so I was only aware of some of the discriminatory practices in San Francisco / California during the Gold Rush, and didn’t even know there was a Chinatown in Seattle.

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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