The Voice Of Asian America

Heroes Project Serves As Defense for Chinese Americans

By: Editorial Staff, Sep 23, 2007

Bay Area retirees Roger Dong and Dr. David Chai have a new Web site,, which documents the
contributions of Chinese Americans to mainstream American society, from architect I.M. Pei to AIDS researcher David Ho and Yahoo!
founder Jerry Yang. They have also created a valuable defense mechanism against anti-China and anti-Chinese sentiment. As news
of China’s hazardous products dominates the media, Americans have become scared. According to an August Zogby International
poll, 82 percent of Americans said they were concerned about purchasing goods from China, and more than 60 percent of American
consumers said they would boycott Chinese goods.

While Chinese officials estimate that 1 percent or less of the products they ship abroad fail quality controls, the American perception
is that 45 percent of food products imported to the United States from China and 49 percent of Chinese manufactured goods violate
U.S. standards for health and safety, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Unfortunately, as American history has demonstrated, with events like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II,
many Americans don’t bother to differentiate between Asians and Asian Americans. If an action in an Asian country adversely affects
the United States, somehow Americans of Asian ancestry in this country are negatively impacted.

Given that the country has been historically wary of and harsh to Chinese Americans — including monitoring their entry into the
country with exclusionary legislation and unjustly labeling the former Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee a spy — this Web site
will help turn the tide of negative sentiment in America. The site is a good way to combat negative perceptions by presenting positive
portrayals and stories of Chinese Americans.

Positive portrayals of Chinese Americans, as well as knowledge of their accomplishments, will teach the public not to fear, scorn or
generalize all Chinese and Chinese Americans. Chinese Americans need a constructive, positive shield in their defense when anti-
Chinese backlash hits. is a good start.

Dong and Chai are currently looking for volunteers to help document Chinese American stories. We all should lend a hand, not only
to help build up what Dong calls this “defense mechanism,” but also to create pride and awareness about our community.
By: Angela Pang, Sep 25, 2007

Are there Chinese American heroes? You bet,
but they have all been invisible. Chinese
Americans and their contributions are often
ignored, overlooked or unknown,” said Roger
Dong, who is trying to change that with his
ambitious new nonprofit organization,
Chinese American Heroes.

He and Dr. David Chai have created a Web site
documenting the positive impact Chinese
Americans have made on society, beginning
with the railroad workers in the 1860s to
contemporary icons like Yahoo! founder Jerry
Yang, historian and journalist Iris Chang, and
architect I.M. Pei.

The Web site will launch on Oct. 1 and
features sections about notable Chinese
Americans, significant events in Chinese
American history and youth achievement.

Dong became passionate about Chinese
American history two years ago after
volunteering as a docent for the Chinese
Historical Society of America. To prepare, he
read numerous history books and was
shocked to discover the hardship and
discrimination his early ancestors faced,
especially due to the Exclusion Act.
Special Websites Recommended By Friends: Set 032
Click each of the following links to view the respective special website.
Chinese American Heroes No Longer Invisible
received from David Chai
Chinese American Heroes Website
“I had never taken a course in Chinese American history, and all these historical facts were eye-opening,” recalls Dong.
Moved by these revelations, he joined the Organization of Chinese Americans, where he met Chai. The idea for their project was
born after Dong gave an impromptu speech at a Committee of 100 conference in San Francisco last year, voicing the need for a
project chronicling the contributions of Chinese Americans. The crowd applauded his concept, and from that moment on, Dong was
motivated to bring the project to life.

Talks of a book were considered, but Chai suggested using the Internet.

“The Internet is efficient, easily accessible and the best way to reach out to thousands of people,” said Chai. “When we went to
register our Web site, we were surprised that no one had claimed it. ‘Chinese Americans’ and ‘heroes’ are two terms that people don’
t associate with each other.”

Dong believes the way Chinese Americans are raised is one of the reasons why their contributions have been ignored by mainstream

“Chinese are taught to be humble, not to brag about our accomplishments,” said Dong. “We have to override our sense of humility to
document our stories.”

Over the next two years, Chinese American Heroes has a goal of compiling 5,000 biographies, but Chai and Dong realize they cannot
do it on their own. They are currently seeking funding to hire staff around the country who will help gather and prepare biographies,
and also write different inspiring stories each day for the Web site.

“We have so much talent in the Chinese American community,” Dong said. “There’s only so much the two of us can do.”
Heroes Project Serves As Defense for Chinese Americans
received from David Chai
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