For Immediate Release
March 27, 2022
UW professor, Connie So, disavows Chinese Americans as Americans. Outraged Chinese American community plan to file a complaint with the UW Senate.
BELLEVUE, WA, March 27, 2023 – At the Washington State House State Government and Tribal Relations Committee’s public hearing on March 21, University of Washington teaching professor, Connie So, asserted that Chinese Americans are different from Americans. Because, according to So, only American citizens can be recognized as Americans. So went on to claim that the Chinese railroad workers of the 19th century “none of them are actually Americans“, because they were denied citizenship back then.
So’s testimony added salt to a more than century old wound that the Chinese American community is attempting to heal by asking the state’s legislature to pass SB 5000, a bill to establish January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month, and correct the “perpetual foreigners” stereotype. The bill’s sponsor and supporters deliberately chose the words “Americans of Chinese Descent” over “Chinese Americans” to emphasize that they are part of American society.
In his email to the committee members, Kan Qiu, President of the Americans Coalition for Equality, told the legislators, “I’m appalled by the hurtful and discriminatory remarks made by a UW teaching professor, … belittling immigrants without naturalization as not being “actually Americans” ! We call America the melting pot. America is an inclusive country. I am confident that every member of this committee would stay distant from such a divisive view.”
In a tweet about So’s testimony, WA Asians For Equality tweeted, “Those Chinese railroad workers were wronged, denied recognition as members of American society. It is on us to right the wrongs and recognize them as Americans. Connie’s rant was hurtful and discriminatory to all immigrants in this country. Urge @uw to denounce her comments.”
Last year, the Americans of Chinese Descent History Month bill, which passed the Senate 48 to 0, was killed by Washington State House Democrats. Outraged, the Chinese American community ran large bill boards in Speaker Laurie Jinkins’ district, urging her to learn from history. So’s comments that disavow Chinese Americans’ history as American history came at a sensitive time when, after passing the Senate by 48 to 0 again this year, the Americans of Chinese Descent History Month bill has been stuck in the House since February 3rd and is facing uncertainty again.
“The Chinese immigrants who built the Pacific Railroad, as well as those who have been living in the US, may not have been citizens, but their efforts and contributions were instrumental in the development of the United States. To deny their place in American history is to overlook the profound influence they had on the country’s growth and to diminish their legacy. This viewpoint can be perceived as another form of racism.” Said, Jessica Xie, who was at the House public hearing on March 21, heard So’s testimony.
“We plan to file a complaint with the UW Senate. Such kinds of speech should not be tolerated.” Said Linda Yang, Director of Washington Asians For Equality, “We also hope that the House Democrat Caucus would distance itself from this kind of narrative and support establishing January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month.”