Asian American Experience in Greater El Monte
As children of migrants and grandchildren of Braceros, the omission of Mexicans as well as our Asian classmates and neighbors from El Monte's official pioneer narrative stood in stark contrast to our experiences growing up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, to watching generations of people of color do the back-breaking labor to build these towns. It stood in contrast to the art, culture, and affirmation that emanated from places like East Los Angeles as well as from the stories we read in countless books that we devoured as high school students and eventually as undergraduates. Where, we wondered, were all our friends nd neighbors?
Despite El Monte and South El Monte's status as a majority-minority city and the more than hundred year presence of Asian Americans in Greater El Monte, there continues to be a lack of public art, monuments, and scholarship dedicated to this history.
This bike ride seeks to set the record straight and to celebrate the rich contribution of Asian American migrants, refugees, artists, and poets. We will start with a broad overview of the history of Asian-Americans in the United States, then explore Japanese-Americans in El Monte, the arrival of refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia, and forced labor and slavery.
After the bike ride, we will gather at Matilija lending library to explore how Asian Americans and Mexicans writers are imagining their place in Grater El Monte, a majority-minority city. Wendy Cheng will moderate a poetry reading that includes Amy Wong, Christine Tran, and Steve Valenzuela.
Lastly, with the "Collective Shade" poetry exercise we invite community members to push back against El Monte's pioneer narrative.
[We will distribute broadsheets and Adelita stickers; as supplies last]