Monday, September 7, 2020

New Sampan Article: Bella Long, The Original Queen of Chinatown

 "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 eight articles for Sampan, including:

My newest article, Bella Long, The Original Queen of Chinatown, is now available in the new issue of Sampan. For approximately twenty years, until her death in 1906, Bella Long was the undisputed Queen of Chinatown. She was likely the first white woman, married to a Chinese man, who lived in Boston’s Chinatown, having arrived in town around 1880-1882. Her past before she moved to Chinatown was mired in mystery and throughout most of her life she was addicted to opium.

She became a valued advisor to the Chinese, as well as a tourist attraction to non-Asians who visited Chinatown. From her bed, while smoking opium, she held court. How and why did she become the Queen of Chinatown? And who was Bella Long? It's a fascinating story so please check out my new article in the Sampan for more information on Bella Long. I'm currently working on a new article for the next issue of Sampan, which should be published later 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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