Friday, August 21, 2020

New Sampan Article: Mary Yick, A Chinatown Pioneer Who Fought Discrimination

"The most interesting feature of Chinese life to me was that on board their boats, or sampans, as they are called....Upon these boats live whole families of three and even four generations."

--The Fall River Daily Herald, November 20, 1888

As I mentioned previously, I have a new writing gig, contributing to Sampan, the only bilingual Chinese-English newspaper in New England. I've previously written seven articles for Sampan, including:

My newest article, Mary Yick: A Chinatown Pioneer Who Fought Discrimination, is now available in the new issue of Sampan. From restaurant owner to blackjack dealer, Mary Yick, like Ruby Foo and Anita Chue, was another pioneering women in the Chinatown restaurant industry, owning the Tiki Hut restaurant on Tyler Street. Like the other two women, Mary Yick was very popular, especially with the theatrical industry, and was affectionately as "The Dragon Lady."

Unfortunately, Mary might have fallen victim to sex discrimination, eventually leading her to sell her famed restaurant. After the sale, Mary went on a tour around the world, finally choosing to settle in Las Vegas, where she became a blackjack dealer, a vastly different job from running a restaurant. Like Ruby Foo and Anita Chue, Mary Yick was an intelligent, charming and savvy business woman who became a success in the restaurant industry, and introduced many people to the wonders of Chinese cuisine, especially Cantonese. Her restaurant career ended too shortly,. A tragedy in its own right. 

Check out my new article in the Sampan for more information on Mary Yick. I'm currently working on a new article for the next issue of Sampan, which will be published next month.

What is a "sampan?" The newspaper's site states, "A sampan is a popular river boat in traditional China. This small but useful vessel, by transporting cargo from large boats to the village ports, creates a channel of communication among villages." And like that type of boat, Sampan delivers news and information all across New England, and "acts a bridge between Asian American community organizations and individuals in the Greater Boston area."

Sampan, which was founded in 1972, is published by the nonprofit Asian American Civic Association, "The newspaper covers topics that are usually overlooked by the mainstream press, such as key immigration legislation, civil rights, housing, education, day-care services and union activities. These issues are crucial to the well-being of Asian immigrants, refugees, low-income families as well as individuals who are not proficient in the English language."

There is plenty of interest in Sampan which will appeal to all types of readers, from restaurant reviews to historical articles, from vital news stories to travel items. In these current days when racism and prejudice against Asians and their restaurants is high, it's more important than ever that accurate information about the Asian community is disseminated and promoted. We need to combat the irrational prejudices that some possess, and support our Asian communities just as we would support any other element of our overall community. We are all important aspects of a whole, and we need to stand together.

Support Sampan!

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