Writing for the Chinese Diaspora
Monday: Introducing a revamped Chinese-language briefing.,
The past year has been momentous for so many reasons it’s hard to even begin to describe them. A harsh spotlight has been cast on deep inequities in American life and on the myriad ways that racism and hatred afflict our nation.
But if there’s one thing I hope we carry forward, it is a greater understanding of the history, breadth and growing power of the diverse Asian communities in California and across the country. Among them is the Chinese diaspora.
Today, I’m excited to introduce Rong Xiaoqing, a journalist who each Friday will write a revamped version of The New York Times’s Chinese-language newsletter. (The rest of the week, the Chinese Daily Briefing will highlight the best of our journalism in Chinese.)
I asked Rong to tell me about the launch. Here’s our conversation:
First, tell us a little bit about the new newsletter — who will it be geared toward and what can subscribers expect?
The newsletter is designed for Chinese language readers, especially the Chinese diaspora in the U.S. Here readers can find a hot topic interpreted from a Chinese perspective, such as how to understand rising anti-Asian hate, and where Chinese-Americans fit in an increasingly diverse Asian community. It also provides a recommended list of Times stories that Chinese readers are likely to be interested in but may not have had time to find themselves given the large number published every day.
And Rong, tell us a little about yourself. Where do you live, and what issues are you most interested in?
I grew up in China but have lived in the United States for the past 20 years. I am a bilingual journalist based in New York, and I have been covering the Chinese community here for almost two decades. I am interested in any and all issues relevant to this community, from the struggles and tensions people face to their achievements and their intricate relationships with their home countries.
If the newsletter is geared toward the Chinese diaspora, I’m guessing you’ll have lots of California readers. What will you be paying attention to that might have particular resonance in the Golden State?
As the state that has the largest population of Chinese-Americans, California has been in the center of many hot topics among Chinese readers, be it the application of affirmative action, the rising political clout of Chinese-Americans, the hate attacks on Asians in the past year, and real estate investment by mainland Chinese in California’s major cities. I envision that sooner or later, all of these will be discussed in our newsletter.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell Chinese-Americans in California?
Years ago, during a trip to San Francisco, a friend drove me to China Beach, which I’d never heard about until then. For a long while, the beach was named James D. Phelan Beach State Park after the white nationalist former mayor of the city until it was changed back by the federal government in the 1970s to its original name commemorating Chinese fishermen who congregated there in the 1800s.
Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about it often. We’ve all been through a lot lately. But I am sure the wrongs will eventually be corrected. You just have to stand firm as the stone by the ocean that has “China Beach” etched on it now.
Catch up on our recent coverage of rising anti-Asian violence and harassment in California.
Read about how Asian-American artists have become activists after the Atlanta attacks.
As part of a recent move to account for the racism of figures in California’s history, Berkeley Law School removed the name from Boalt Hall.
Learn more about the effort to recover the legacy of some of California’s earliest residents of Chinese descent: railroad workers.
See an in-depth profile of the Chinese immigrant population in the United States from the Migration Policy Institute.
Here’s what else to know today
An effort by insurance companies to pass on costs in Texas after the deep freeze there echoes the wildfire strategy in California. Insurers are arguing that power companies should have taken protective steps after past cold snaps.
Since testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin began on March 29, at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead.
Exercise reduces the risk of severe illness from Covid-19, according to a recent study of nearly 50,000 Californians who were infected.
The pandemic presented an opportunity for California to reinvent how it moves unhoused people off the streets. So how did Gov. Gavin Newsom’s big effort to buy hotels go? “Whether they intended to or not, the State of California ran this very thorough proof of concept,” one expert said.
Shipping containers and free-standing tiny homes have been proposed as a solution to California’s homeless crisis. But a columnist for The Los Angeles Times asks, are they humane?
An N.C.A.A. disciplinary committee put the University of Southern California men’s basketball program on two years’ probation and fined it over the actions of a former associate head coach who accepted a bribe from a sports management company for players with N.B.A. potential.
For years, people flying from Central America to the U.S. have brought with them containers of fried chicken from Pollo Campero. The chicken chain exists in the United States, The Los Angeles Times reported, but it’s just not the same.
A missing hiker in Southern California was located by a stranger on the internet who examined a photo the man had sent to a friend before he disappeared.
Keep an eye on your pets: Dozens of raccoons in Long Beach have contracted distemper, which can also infect dogs, The Press-Telegram reported.
In less upsetting animal news, surveillance cameras captured a bear wandering into a Pasadena home and browsing the kitchen, before two tiny terriers chased it out. See the video in this story from The Pasadena Star-News.
And finally …
Gertrude Stein may not have given her Oakland upbringing much credit for her success as a poet. She famously minted the cliche: “There is no there there,” in describing her hometown.
But her poodle, Basket?
Well, that’s another story, as my colleagues wrote in this (belatedly shared) National Pet Day feature.
“Listening to the rhythm of his water drinking,” spurred a flash of insight about “the difference between sentences and paragraphs, that paragraphs are emotional and that sentences are not.”
She wasn’t the only writer to be inspired by her canine — or feline — best friend.
John Steinbeck wrote about a road trip he took with his dog Charley. And Langston Hughes hung out with a dog on a beach in Carmel, which seems like an inspiring way to spend any amount of time.
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.