When I spoke on the history of Chinese laundries at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago in 2008, I was asked if a photographer from the Chicago Sun-Times could shoot me. And shoot he did!
But perhaps my favorite pose was the one below with me in front of a “poem” that I composed in honor of the thousands of Chinese laundrymen who labored in their arduous work for decades to earn a living, often isolated from Chinese communities and objects of ridicule and even violence in American society.
Unfortunately, not long after this occasion, the Museum suffered a major fire which damaged or destroyed some displays and exhibits, including the poem. Since then, the Museum has arisen out of the ashes through the dedication and hard work of its staff and is in 2013 better than ever. However, there is one other sad aspect associated with this story. This week the Chicago Sun Times decided to fire its entire photojournalist staff, including John H. White, the African American photographer who took photos of me in 2008. At that time I had no inkling that White was a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, noted especially for his revealing photographs of Black Chicago. Only when I learned he had lost his job after 44 years of outstanding work did I check to confirm that he had been the one who ‘shot’ me. I was surprised but feel fortunate to have been the ‘target’ of the camera of someone so highly acclaimed for his photojournalistic excellence.