We were the only Chinese family in Macon, Georgia, where I was born in 1937. Our family owned and ran a laundry above which were our living quarters. We moved to San Francisco in the early 1950s because our parents wanted us to live among Chinese people. I majored in psychology at U. C. Berkeley and went on to earn a Ph.D. at Northwestern University before starting a 40 year career as a professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach.
In retirement, I began to study the life experiences of Chinese immigrants like my parents who endured harsh lives and suffered racial prejudices. My first book, "Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South" was a memoir describing what our family experienced living in the Jim Crow era in the South. The interest that this book generated led me to write 3 other books about the Chinese American experience. "Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain" is a social history of the important role that these businesses that once dotted the landscape held for the economic survival of Chinese immigrants. Another book, "Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton: Lives of Mississippi Delta Chinese Grocers" similarly examines how this family occupation provided for Chinese in the delta. Most recently, I wrote a social history of Chinese family restaurants, "Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants."
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All Books By This Author:
- Chinese Laundries: Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain
- by John Jung Rating: 0.0
A social history of the role of the Chinese laundry on the survival of early Chinese immigrants in the U.S.during the Chinese Exclusion law period, 1882-1943, and in Canada during the years of the Head Tax, 1885-1923, and exclusion law, 1923-1947. Why and how Chinese got into the laundry business and how they had to fight discriminatory laws and competition from white-owned laundries to survive. Description of their lives, work demands, and living conditions. Reflections by a sample of children who grew up living in the backs of their laundries provide vivid first-person glimpses of the difficult lives of Chinese laundrymen and their families.
Congratulations on a landmark achievement. We know how much work you put into this volume and I am highly honored to be a small part of your accomplishment. Thank you so much for preserving this part of history. I think you will be long remembered for your work. Ken Lee, Ohio State University.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and haven't come across such an interesting and well-researched book on American Chinese history since "The Mississippi Chinese" by Loewen. Well done!
I have just now finished reading your books and it was a delightful ambience down memory lane. Southern Fried Rice evoked many memories of when we lived in athens (Ga),.. Chinese Laundries is a very readable history of a people who could endure and overcome any hardships... Tommy Nakayama
After reading Dr. Jung's personal and brilliantly written accounts of the blood, sweat, and toil that Chinese Americans endured in the development of the laundry empire in America, you will never feel the same way about the mundane chore of loading and unloading your washer/dryer again. This book doesn't just take you through the historical trajectory of the occupation oft-times associated with Chinese immigrants; it's the story of a people--of families who believe in the value of hard work and determination, and the undying hope of a brighter future. This book is an absolute must-read for anyone of Chinese decent; more importantly, it is for anyone who has a dream. Kathy Wu
SCHOLAR PRAISE For "CHINESE LAUNDRIES"
…important window into the history of the early Chinese immigrants. . . The laundrymen faced struggles, challenges, and even disappointments; yet, the Chinese laundry became a valued and necessary enterprise …
Sylvia Sun Minnick, SamFow: The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy and Stockton's Chinese Community
… a significant contribution to the history of Chinese laundries … best told by someone like Jung who experienced a ‘laundry life,’ and understands its psychological impact on the Chinese laundrymen and their families. . .
Murray K. Lee, Curator of Chinese American History, San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
… rewarding study of an era marked by invention born of dire necessity, an unforgiving host society that demanded Chinese laundrymen’s services but then punished them for being too good at it, … a long overdue analysis of a familiar experience hidden in plain sight.
Mel Brown, Chinese Heart of Texas, The San Antonio Chinese Community, 1875-1975.
… a welcome contribution to Chinese American studies that depicts the plight of early generations of Chinese caught in the predicament of operating laundries to provide for their families, ... while enduring extreme hardship and loneliness ... inclusion of historic documents, photographs, newspaper article excerpts, and revealing personal stories and insider observations from a few of the many who, like the author, grew up and worked in their family laundries. ...
Joan S. Wang, Race, Gender, and Laundry Work: The Roles of Chinese Laundrymen and American Women in the United States, 1850–1950, Journal of American Ethnic History
… a remarkable book...a comprehensive historical study of the Chinese laundries in the United States, a profound analysis of the psychological experiences of the Chinese laundrymen in America and their families in China; and above all, written by someone who has intimate experiences with the Chinese laundry, it is a tribute to those Chinese immigrants whose labor and sacrifice laid the foundation of the Chinese American community, and a testimony of the Chinese laundrymen’s resilience, resourcefulness, and humanity.
Renqiu Yu, To Save China, To Save Ourselves, The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York.
- Genres: History
- Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants
- by John Jung Rating: 0.0
"Sweet and Sour" examines the history of Chinese family restaurants in the U. S. and Canada. Why did many Chinese immigrants enter this business around the end of the 19th century? What conditions made it possible for Chinese to open and succeed in operating restaurants after they emigrated to North America? How did Chinese restaurants manage to attract non-Chinese customers, given that they had little or no acquaintance with the Chinese style of food preparation and many had vicious hostility toward Chinese immigrants? The goal of "Sweet and Sour" is to understand how the small Chinese family restaurants functioned. Narratives provided by 10 Chinese who grew up in their family restaurants in all parts of the North America provide valuable insights on the role that this ethnic business had on their lives. Is there any future for this type of immigrant enterprise in the modern world of franchised and corporate owned eateries or will it soon, like the Chinese laundry, be a relic of history?
You've made some amazing observations, wrote them down with sincerity, and I wholeheartedly support you on it. You've brought back some fond memories and I'm sure it will touch other folks like myself that have gone through it. Dave Chow
... Brings back childhood memories as most of the people interviewed are from Toisan like my family. We could always go into a new town, drop in at a Chinese restaurant and be welcomed. Dad would run out and say, "they're cousins!" Now I know he meant they were from Toisan. It also is a nice little account on the history of restaurants in America and changing trends. Rosemary Eng
"When reading Sweet and Sour, I was struck by how it is both a work of scholarship and a documentation of the experience of Chinese restaurant workers. It serves to teach us about their experiences on multiple levels." Heather Lee, Brown University
John Jung has taken us down another memory lane and this time we brought along our appetite. "Sweet & Sour" evoked hundreds of memories of Chinatowns, favorite soul food dishes, haunts of opulent and garish banquet halls and the more frequented and beloved hole-in-the walls. These are the collective memories shared by families and friends. Sweet & Sour is also an anthropological study. Chinese cooks across these United States and Canada created an everlasting love for Chinese food enjoyed by all cultures. Find a "chop suey" house and generations upon generations will cite their favorites, be it chow mein, fried rice, beef brisket stew or even chicken feet. Without a doubt this is by far Jung's best work and with the greatest universal appeal.
Sylvia Sun Minnick, "Samfow: The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy"
I greatly admired and enjoyed "Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" It does an excellent job of going over the historical background on early U. S. Chinese restaurants, unearthing lots of material new to me. And the interviews of Chinese restaurateurs opened up a whole new side to the story, of what it was like to work and live in these restaurants.
Andrew Cole, "Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States"
John Jung again demonstrates a marvelous ability to blend archival data with fascinating first-person accounts to bring to life the family-operated Chinese eateries that are quickly disappearing from today's society. Following solid historical groundwork, Jung uses narratives of 10 individuals who grew up in such places to take readers inside old-time chop suey houses. Their stories provide a candid telling of the personal, familial, and cultural significance of these familiar cafes. As with his earlier books on Chinese family-owned laundries and grocery stores, the author sheds a fresh and ample light on a subject even more familiar. And once again he does it so well from the inside out.
Mel Brown, "Chinese Heart of Texas: The San Antonio Community 1875-1975."
"Sweet And Sour" is a powerful historical exploration of an American institution: the family-owned Chinese restaurant. John Jung succeeds in bringing to life the exterior side of such Chinese eateries across the nation--their appearance, their location, and of course, their hybrid, Americanized menu offerings. In addition, by means of a variety of interviews and primary sources, he focuses attention as well on their little-known private side, the daily routines and harsh working conditions that made them run. Jung underlines the contributions of all family members, including children, that were necessary for success.
Greg Robinson, Prof. of History, University of Quebec, Montreal. "A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America"
"Sweet and Sour: Life in Chinese Family Restaurants" tackles the long-neglected topic of Chinese food with a focus on Chinese restaurants. This well-researched, thoughtfully conceptualized monograph brings academic rigor and adds historical depth, as well as the perspectives of an insightful scholar and a second-generation Chinese American, to our understanding of the development of Chinese food in the realm of public consumption in the United States and Canada. It promises to elevate that understanding to a higher level... Through this book, I hope, consumers at the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants can also gain a deeper appreciation of historical forces and human experiences that have shaped the food they now enjoy.
Yong Chen,Professor of History, University of California, Irvine. "San Francisco Chinese 1850-1943:A Trans-Pacific Community."
"Sweet and Sour" covers many important aspects of the Chinese restaurant business and it is a great contribution to the study of Chinese food in America. This area really deserves more attention than it has had.
Haiming Liu, Prof.Ethnic & Women's Studies, Calif. State Polytechnic Univ. Pomona. "Food, Culinary Identity, and Transnational Culture: Chinese Restaurant Business in Southern California,"
I am reading your delightful book, Sweet and Sour. I especially like the "Insider Perspectives" section. Those first-hand experiences can generate a lot of potentially testable hypotheses about how the Chinese were able to provision their remote restaurants with exotic ingredients while other ethnic groups could not.
Susan B. Carter, Univ. of California, Riverside
- Genres: History
- Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton: Lives of Mississippi Delta Chinese Grocers
- by John Jung Rating: 0.0
The story of how a few Chinese immigrants found their way to the Mississippi River Delta in the late 1870s and earned their living with small family operated grocery stores in neighborhoods where mostly black cotton plantation workers lived. What was their status in the segregated black and white world of that time and place? How did this small group preserve their culture and ethnic identity? "Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton"is a social history of the lives of these pioneering families and the unique and valuable role they played in their communities for over a century.
"...your book presents the most definitive and accurate account of the Chinese in the Ms Delta--what it was like to be Chinese and growing up in the segregated South during that time. Thanks for all your time and effort in researching and telling the story of the Ms Chinese Grocers in the Land of Cotton." Peter Joe
"Thank you for writing this book especially so that current and future young people with roots in the South will know about their roots..."
"What a juicy read! The hard work, the social isolation, the networking, the solutions of problems such as education in a segregated society which never had them in mind - it's mind-boggling! And the similarities... More >es and differences in the Chinese relationships with whites as opposed to blacks - fascinating! Your books are a significant contribution to the social history of this nation." Nan McGehee
"Wow! Impressive! I think it takes an outsider to truly appreciate it. We're too close to it to really appreciate what a great social history it is."
"I felt like I was right among the people you interviewed. It is the best book written about the Chinese in the Mississippi Delta."
"Thanks for all you have done for Chinese Americans. I know that if my father were still alive, he would be devouring all your books and research."
"A very good read. As a granddaughter of store owners, this book was a fascinating look at what life was like for my grandparents and mother. Indirectly, I learned a lot about my family. I felt that I knew very little about my mother's childhood, but now I have a rich context with which to insert the stories I have heard."
Jung deftly demonstrates how these sojourners from the Guangdong province found their niche in a unique and challengingly complex social setting, rigidly stratified by race. They not only `survived,' but overcame racism to prosper and eventually become valued members of their communities. After a thorough historical background that provides a framework needed to fully portray their difficult circumstances, the author examines both the sociological and psychological aspects of daily life for Chinese American grocery store families. As a Chinese American who grew up in the Deep South himself, John Jung has a degree of empathy that imbues Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton with an insight both in depth and breadth that is totally requisite for a study of this nature.
Mel Brown, Chinese Heart of Texas, The San Antonio Community, 1875-1975;
In Chopsticks in The Land of Cotton, John Jung has done it again! Plunging into the history of Chinese grocers in the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta, he traces their migration history, work, families, and social lives. His work is anchored in a creative mix of oral history, community historical documents and public records, and includes a generous fill of photos. As a study of the complexities of triangular race relations in the Jim Crow South, his work rivals James Loewen's classic study, The Mississippi Chinese.
Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001); Mine Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008)
"Chopsticks" tells the story of yet one more example of Chinese tenacity in which John Jung traces the paths of pioneer Chinese immigrants in Mississippi as they moved from laborers to become successful grocery store merchants for decades with family members and relatives serving as the backbone. "Chopsticks" pays tribute to the resilience and "can-do" attitude of these enterprising entrepreneurs.
Sylvia Sun Minnick, Sam Fow,The San Joaquin Chinese Legacy
Chopsticks in the Land of Cotton explores aspects of Chinese settlement in the Mississippi Delta that earlier writings on the subject do not address in detail. Jung analyzes why grocery stores emerged as virtually the only occupation for Chinese in that area instead of farming and hand laundries. He examines the extensive kinship networking that brought male relatives and later whole families to this unlikely region for Chinese settlement. Jung's impressive book can be enjoyed by ordinary readers for its captivating stories and by scholars for its thorough research and analysis of sources.
Daniel Bronstein, The Formation and Development of Chinese Communities in Atlanta, Augusta, And Savannah, Georgia: From Sojourners To Settlers, 1880-1965
John Jung provides meticulous detail on a subject worth much greater examination: the Chinese grocery stores of the South. These grocery stores were the center of Chinese American family and commercial life in the South, including Texas and the Southwest, for at least half of the twentieth century. Jung illuminates every aspect of these grocery stores, which were as important to black neighborhoods as they were to the Chinese American families who ran them. Especially of interest is Jung's exploration of the relationships between Chinese Americans and African Americans, a topic distorted by the iconic images of more recent inter-ethnic conflicts. Chopsticks is a valuable contribution to Asian American history.
Irwin Tang, Co-Author and Editor Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives
- Genres: History
- Southern Fried Rice: Life in A Chinese Laundry in the Deep South
- by John Jung Rating: 0.0
This memoir conveys the experiences of our family, the only Chinese people living in Macon, Georgia between 1928 and 1956. It describes our family's isolated existence running a laundry, enduring loneliness as well as racial prejudice for over 20 years, why and how we moved across the continent to live in the San Francisco Chinese community, and how each family member adjusted to the challenges and opportunities of their new lives.
Your book is a joy to read. It has a beautiful flow to it and an enriching quality that is easier to feel than it is to describe. Couched in humor, it deals with the painful and serious matter of day-to-day struggles of existence of a couple who came here with hardly anything more than faith in their hearts and steel in their spines.
Krishan Saxena, Kensington, California
Your book is the one that I had promised myself that I would write one day, but you went ahead and wrote it. You did a wonderful job!
Henry Tom, Frederick, Maryland
Thank you for telling your story in such an engaging manner. While your story is personal it is also universal because of its working class foundation laced with layers of Chinese ethnicity, family structure and dynamics, and the specificity of the South.
Flo Oy Wong, Artist, Sunnyvale, California
Enjoyed very much reading your family history revealing a unique experience yet sharing many of the same problems of families in Chinese laundries. Yours is one of the few written accounts of the many family-run laundries in the U. S. Thank you for the careful documentation of this history, which would be otherwise forgotten.
Tunney Lee, Boston, Massachusetts
"Southern Fried Rice" is a well-written and factually documented memoir that gave me insight into the lives of Chinese in the South, especially those living where there were no other Chinese, as you did in Macon. Your move to San Francisco must have been as much of a cultural shock for you as it was for me, an African American moving to the Bay Area from Memphis.
Leatha Ruppert, Cotati, California
"Riveting - couldn't put the book down until it was finished - it mirrored many of my own childhood experiences growing up in New Zealand in the 50s. The Chinese immigrant experience must have been the same the world over."
Helen Wong, Auckland, New Zealand
I appreciated this book, because it has given me a deeper perspective in what it means to be a second generation Chinese American of emigrant parents who operated a Chinese laundry. I understand that all minorities that emigrated to the United States in search of a better life had their struggles with survival and discrimination, this book makes me not only value and respect my parents, but also other immigrant parents who desired their children to be prosperous.
Lou Lan W. Argueta, Carson, Ca.
"I read this book in a week, which is fast for me. I was fascinated in this story of Chinese Americans in the deep south in contrast to my own experiences living in Seattle. There are a lot of similarities but certainly different. This book is scholarly with many sources cited." Tony Chinn
"Southern Fried Rice tells the overlooked history of Chinese Americans in the Deep South through the author's account of his family's experiences in Georgia running a laundry from the late 1920s through the 1950s. This inside view of an immigrant family who struggled to make a living and to maintain connections with their Chinese heritage and homeland highlights the mutability and complexity of Chinese American identity and the frequently forgotten ethnic and racial diversity of the South."
Krystyn Moon, Assistant Professor of History, Mary Washington University,
Author, Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850s-1920s.
"A humane and personal reflection on life as a young Chinese American growing up in Macon, Georgia, when Jim Crow segregation still ruled. This memoir has an incisive clarity that shines extra light on the mundane oddities and inhuman logic of everyday life in the South before the Civil Rights era. It provides a sense of what it was to be like to grow up an outsider in a rigid racial system that could not find a place for those who contradicted its premises and offers us a rare glimpse at the fairly common experience of those who found themselves in the impossible spaces of the American racial order, a world that is both thankfully distant and yet hauntingly familiar still."
Henry Yu, Associate Professor of History, UCLA and University of British Columbia, Author, Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America
"Southern Fried Rice demonstrates the fluidity of regional and national identity and is both a construction and deconstruction of "Chinese-ness."...These stories offer much toward confirming and complicating popular notions of what it means to be "American" just as it traces the slippery identity shifts of what it means to be "Chinese" ... a valuable mirror that will help move the history of those who are neither Black nor White towards a more deserving central role in the national and international human story."
Stephanie Y. Evans, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Women's Studies, University of Florida Author, "Black Women in the Ivory Tower, 1850-1954: An Intellectual History"
"John Jung provides an insightful account of himself and his family in the context of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the 1940s and 1950s. The unique experiences and struggles of his family members serve both to confirm some principles from social science research on Chinese in America as well as to remind us of the importance of individual differences, yielding meaningfulness and substance to issues of culture, race relations, immigration, and identity development. This engaging, candid, and often humorous and heartwarming book is an important contribution not only to the fields of psychology, sociology, and history but also to literature. Social scientists and students alike will find the book immensely fascinating and satisfying."
Stanley Sue. Distinguished Professor, Psychology and Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis Editor, "Asian American Mental Health: Assessment Theories Methods"
"..rich with historical detail...engaging memoir ...insightful observation"
Barbara Kim, Prof., Asian American Studies Calif. St. Univ., Long Beach
"..fascinating and insightful account of Chinese-American family life...charming and information..."
Paul Rosenblatt, Prof.,Family Social Sciences, University of Minnesota
"..woven with genuine scholarship...masterful bit of storytelling..."
Ronald Gallimore, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA
"...a unique view of ethnic identity.. fascinating insights...what it means to be Chinese when there is no Chinese community... and the way subsequent experiences in__and out__ of a Chinese community futher shape this process."
Jean Phinney, Cal State Univ, Los Angeles, Author, Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure
"A charming and engrossing self-ethnography. More importantly, John Jung's book enhances the archive on Asians in the South as well as our understanding of how Jim Crow situated the Chinese between `white' and `colored.'"
Leslie Bow, English and Asian American Studies (Director) University of Wisconsin Author "Betrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women's Literature"
"In Southern Fried Rice, John Jung offers an intriguing and unique perspective on American immigration. Based on his experience as a child in the only Chinese family in Macon, Georgia in the mid-20th century, Jung's story is a fascinating account of the negotiation of personal and ethnic identity in a foreign environment. His narrative highlights many of the features of the larger society, including both government policy and situational practice, that shape the lives of immigrants, both then and now."
Kay Deaux, Distinguished Professor, Psychology, City University of New York Graduate Center, Author, "To Be An Immigrant"
John Jung's delightful book opens a window providing a glimpse into the lives of one family born to Chinese immigrants in a small town in the South in the 1930s and 1940s. Being the only Chinese in town in a segregated society, their lives were certainly not mint julep and magnolias...The author sees his upbringing and that of his siblings, as the challenging task of accommodating two wolds and, being more Chinese than not.
Sylvia Sun Minnick, Author, Samfow, The San Joaquin Chinese Experience
- Genres: Biographies, History