Sunday, June 04, 2006

Asian Pacific American Heritage

Dr. John Jung: “Southern Fried Rice: Life in a Chinese Laundry in the Deep South”
Posted by Brenda Tran
Photos by Jai Katikineni

Friday 04/28/06

To commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and through the sponsorship of Gap Inc., NAAAP-Atlanta was able to host Dr. John Jung, author of “Southern Fried Rice: Life in a Chinese Laundry in the Deep South.” The event, which sold 31 books, attracted more than 43 people to UPS Headquarters.
Neither Black nor White, we are Asian Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau estimates, Asian American population grew from 3.6% of U.S. total in 2000 to 4.2% in 2004. In Georgia, the number grew from 173,170 in 2000 to 238,281 in 2004. It is hard to imagine that more than 100 years ago, Asian immigrants came to Georgia as laborers in the late 1800s. A few generations later, some of their descendants are still living in the cities their grandparents had once struggled to live. Though stories of discrimination and segregation of minorities had been told in movies and history books, American history is only beginning to reveal the pain and endurance of the silent minority…the early Asian immigrants.
This is the story of a Chinese family, the only Chinese people living in Macon, Georgia between 1928 and 1956. The Asian American community is fortunate to have authors such as Dr. John Jung that has lived through the history and can articulate the experience in vivid account of this Chinese family in the Deep South.
Southern Fried Rice is a memoir that conveys the experiences of his parents and subsequently of his family in Macon, Georgia during the pre-civil rights era. It describes the immigrant family's isolated existence running a laundry, enduring loneliness as well as racial prejudice for over 20 years, why and how it moved across the continent to live in a Chinese community, and how each family member adjusted to the challenges and opportunities of their new lives.
Through Dr. Jung’s presentation, the audience had a better understanding of diversity and a greater appreciation for Asian American history and heritage.
Representing Gap Inc. was Sheila Johnson, Director of Diversity and Inclusion. After the event, she comments, “I found Dr. Jung 's humorous approach to sharing Chinese culture and his personal journey both transparent and enlightening. I would also say that from the continuous stream of questions coming from the audience, they too were moved by all he shared. As you begin to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, know that Gap Inc. celebrates with you and wishes much success for NAAAP in the future.”
Missed the event but interested in getting yourcopy of Southern Fried Rice? Email (cost $15, only 10 available)
About Dr. John JungDr. John Jung is a retired psychology professor from California State University, Long Beach who received his BA from U. C. Berkeley in 1959 and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Northwestern University in 1962. Over a long academic career, he has enjoyed a balance between teaching and conducting research in diverse areas including memory, addiction, and health psychology. His greatest reward has been his role in mentoring minority students to pursue doctoral training in psychology through a program he directed with funding for the past 25 years from the National Institute of Mental Health.
As he entered retirement, Dr. Jung began to analyze how the lives of his immigrant parents and his siblings, the sole Chinese family in town, were influenced by living in the Deep South as they struggled to survive running a laundry in Macon, Georgia, from the 1920s to 1950s, a period antedating the civil rights movement. These reflections led him in 2005 to author “Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South.”
Currently, he is extending his newfound interest in Chinese immigrant history by starting a book to be titled, “Chinese Laundry Tickets,” that will document the significant role of the laundry in the historical experience of Chinese America with special emphasis on the experiences of people who grew up in these laundries.
EVENT SPONSOR: Gap Inc.Gap Inc. is a proud sponsor of NAAAP-Atlanta during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Gap Inc. is one of the world's largest specialty retailers, with more than 3,000 stores and fiscal 2005 revenues of $16 billion. It operates four of the most recognized apparel brands in the world — Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Forth & Towne. For more information about Gap Inc., visit read about its goal for workplace diversity at Diversity.

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