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, www.chineseamericanheroes.org, 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.
ChineseAmericanHeroes.org 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.
|People Village: 人傑村: 001: Chinese American Heros 美華人傑 美华人傑
Chinese American Heroes
It is indisputable that Chinese Americans have made significant contributions to America and the
world at large. However, the contributions, and especially the persons making these contributions, are
not well known, often not even to Chinese Americans themselves. Our contributions, from building of
the Transamerica railroads to major research and development in all areas of science and technology
to multi-media in arts and music, are either unknown, or forgotten. Even President Clinton “knew that
the Chinese Americans have made major contributions to US prowess in science and technology, but
had no idea what they really have done” in a remark to Charlie Sie, then Vice Chairman of Committee-
100 in a meeting on June 7, 1999.
The Chinese American Heroes organization was conceived and created in 2006. Its mission is to use
the tremendous flexibility of the Internet to document all significant contributions by Chinese
Americans in every field of endeavor, and to make them easily accessible by all, through its web site:
ChineseAmericanHeroes.org. It was recognized by the IRS as a tax exempt, non-profit organization as
defined in Tax Code (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) effective July 31, 2006. As a non-profit organization, it will
look to many volunteers and philanthropists to make this project possible, so that future generations
of Chinese Americans will proudly know their Heroes. We would also like to share the contributions of
our Heroes with the rest of the world.
Besides the volunteers, we expect to hire full/part time researchers in major cities with large Chinese
American populations to discuss and interview with community leaders to document their “local”
Heroes. Each candidate Hero will have a one-page description, with many Internet links to other
sources for more detailed contributions. Not every candidate can be considered a Hero; however, the
main purpose of the organization is to provide a large database of Chinese Americans who have made
some worthwhile contribution to America from her/his effort. We will not limit the number of Heroes;
however, a pool of volunteer experts in the appropriate and relevant fields will be recruited to make
judgment on the contribution(s) of the candidates. We also will not limit the number of fields or
categories of Heroes, as that may change with time.
Those who are not designated as Heroes will be readily accessible on our website, as they can be role
models to inspire our youth. We also want to document our younger generation Chinese Americans,
who have made some achievements in their young lives, such as National Merit Scholars or
valedictorians in their schools. We can follow them as they blossom to significant contributors. The
web site will carry significant historical information for certain days or events. For example, on July
4th, we will honor those military Heroes who sacrificed their lives for America. On September 11th, we
will honor, for example, Betty Ong and Zack Zeng, two people who perished in service to their country.
In March we may honor Iris Chang on her birthday, and recap her extraordinary life and monumental
literary achievements. On Asian Heritage Month in May, we may have a special write-up of the event
recognizing the contributions by Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans.
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
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.
“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.”