Interesting website I came upon. Have a relative or ancestor that came through Ellis Island? Search their name you might just find them amoungst 25 million records in this ditgital database. They even have “Name of Passenger, Residence, Arrived, Age on Arrival, Passenger Record, Ship Manifest, Ship Image” available. Pretty sweet.
I gave a speech at “Dreams Takin Flight” in solidarity with the March in Washington DC, this past March 21st, 2010.I wanted to write something, so I turned to my poetry/songs.I wrote this not to write an amazing piece, but to describewhat I am observing, and feeling. Hope you enjoy.
- Queren Orozco
ONE ACT Little kids play with crayons. Adults rush to work while I study French. The day goes ” de toutes les couleurs.” ( with all colors) water never tasted so good, well it’s a simple desire. (chorus) We dream, we dream as the system pretends to repair and our futures await. We dream, we dream only to be. Tell me Who doesn’t dream to be? Even those who are, presist to be. The Workers, finish up paving the road. They’re tired, they’re hungry. They’re ready to go home Doctors finish up their last prescription of the day. They’re tired, They’re hungy. They’re ready to go home. and as I sit and converse with you. The day goes bleu claire, bleu fonce, bleu vif it goes, multicolored. Raspberries never tasted so sweet (chorus) We dream, we dream as the system pretends to repair and our futures await. We dream, we dream only to be. Tell me Who doesn’t dream to be? Even those who are, persist to be. and she… she sit’s alone, she’s tired, she’s hungry, she desperately wants to go home. home never sounded so good. “Well it’s a simple desire”. but it’s “simply” out of reach. (chorus) she dreams, she dreams as the system pretends to repair and her futures awaits. she dreams, she dreams. Her eyes begin to fill as my glass empties her tummy rumbles and I’ve only got one raspberries left to swallow. Tell me you’ve opened your eyes, and your heart’s began to settle.
“I am here to speak. Say the words. Her nearness has delivered me to this moment, an ever-lengthening moment between her breaths, that I might finally speak the words turning inward, for the first time, in my own beginning and lonely language: Do not be afraid. It is all right, so do not be afraid. You are not really alone. You may die, but you will have been heard. Keep speaking — it is real. You have a voice.”—Chang-rae Lee, The Faintest Echo of our Language
Angel Island Immigration Station Poetry 1910 - 1940
These telling poems were written by overseas Chinese on the walls of the Angel Island Immigration station, located in the San Francisco bay. Between 1910 and 1940, as many as 175,000 Chinese immigrants were detained and processed at Angel Island. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Angel Island served more as a detention and deportation center than an immigration processing center. Thousands of Chinese were detained and interrogated at the barracks in a prison-like atmosphere for weeks, months or years. Life for the detainees was strange, stressful, demoralizing, and humiliating. Separated from family members, they were placed in crowded communal living quarters. One hundred persons would sleep in bunk beds, three high in columns, in a room about 1,000 square feet.
There are tens of thousands of poems on these walls They are all cries of suffering and sadness The day I am rid of this prison and become successful I must remember that this chapter once existed I must be frugal in my dailyneeds Needless extravagance usually leads to ruin All my compatriots should remember China Once you have made some small gains, you should return home early.
Written by one from Heungshan
The sea-scape resembles lichen twisting and turning for a thousand li.’ There is no shore to land and it is difficult to walk. With a gentle breeze I arrived at the city thinking all would be so. At ease, how was one to know he was to live in a wooden building?
Because my house had bare walls, I began rushing all about. The waves are happy, laughing “Ha-ha!” When I arrived on Island, I heard I was forbidden to land. I could do nothing but frown and feel angry at heaven.
In the quiet of night, I heard, faintly, the whistling of wind. The forms and shadows saddened me; upon seeing the landscape, I composed a poem. The floating clouds, the fog, darken the sky. The moon shines faintly as the insects chirp. Grief and bitterness entwined are heaven sent. The sad person sits alone, leaning by a window.
America has power, but not justice. In prison, we were victimized as if we were guilty. Given no opportunity to explain, it was really brutal. I bow my head in reflection but there is nothing I can do.
I am distressed that we Chinese are in this wooden building It is actually racial barriers which cause difficulties on Yingtai Island. Even while they are tyrannical they still claim to be humanitarian. I should regret my taking the risks of coming in the first place.
I thoroughly hate the barbarians because they do not respect justice. They continually promulgate harsh laws to show off their prowess. They oppress the overseas Chinese and also violate treaties. They examine for hookworms and practice hundreds of despotic acts.
This is a message to those who live here not to worry excessively. Instead, you must cast your idle worries to the flowing stream. Experiencing a little ordeal is not hardship. Napoleon was once a prisoner on an island.
Reference: Lai, Him Mark, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung, Island Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.