美国交通部长赵小兰撰文,称赞铁路华工协助建立美国,成为历史的传奇

美国交通部长赵小兰在《Washington Examiner》上撰文,赞扬华裔工人创造历史,协助建立了这个国家, 也让他们成为美国历史传奇的一部分。

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生活中很少有机会让我们为史书添加正面叙述,但最近有这样一个机会。我在纪念金钉150周年庆典中,表彰了12000多名华裔工人,他们在建造第一条横贯美国大陆的铁路中发挥了关键作用。

他们在建造中央太平洋铁路时佔了80%的劳动力,经历了无情、严酷又危险的条件,建造了我国历史上最伟大的基础设施之一。用最原始的工具,挖掘及穿凿内华达山脉,他们中许多人因而丧生。但他们的牺牲不仅没有获得感谢,反而通过了州及联邦的法律,禁止男性及女性华人成为美国公民或移民到美国。

从那之后的150年发生了很多变化。排华法案已被废除,我们的国家已经向前发展,成为今天多元化的国家。但一个半世纪以来,华裔社区一直耐心等待华工在横贯大陆铁路的贡献得到充分认可与尊重。

2019年5月10日,适当的表彰终于来到。这提醒著人们,当我们国家变得更多元化时,就极为渴望让所有帮助美国伟大的族群的成就,获得承认与表彰。

亚太裔美国人社区全国成长最快的社区之一,我越来越多听到这样一种情绪,在短短50年间,亚太裔已从全国人口的1%增长到将近7%。他们为自己重视强大的家庭,教育及勤奋工作而感到自豪,亚太裔对我们国家的成长壮大有很大贡献。看看亚太裔的失业率,仅为惊人低的2.2%。许多亚太裔对总统内阁中有人看起来像他们,并可分享他们的经历,感到非常欣慰。

尽管如此,亚太裔美国人仍然感到不安。在金钉庆典上,我从亚太裔那儿听到,他们觉得长久以来,他们先祖的贡献被贬低成为历史的一个注脚。流行文化并不总是能够分辨华裔美国人(那些在美国出生或自由选择成为美国公民的人)和中国公民。其他亚裔对旨在限制他们子女获得一流教育机会的配额制度感到越来越沮丧。对于经历过许多历史障碍才成为羽翼丰满美国人的社区而言,这些发展有著与过去似成相识的环节。

本届政府领导成立了白宫亚太事务办公室(我是共同主席之一),帮助提升亚裔美国人及太平洋群岛族裔的经济赋权。此外,还颁布了一项行政命令,确认进入高等教育必须注重绩优,而不是贬抑那些作出牺牲,自我投资且学术表现卓越的人。这些行动呼应了亚太裔社区的深切期许。

但总还是有更多的事情可以做。认可横贯大陆铁路华工的开创性贡献,是一个更具包容性历史的良好开端。我希望他们惊人的成就将成为美国民间传说的一部分,让每个孩子,每个美国人都知道,以表彰使国家伟大的具多种广泛而美丽肤色的人。

Elaine Chao: Chinese workers helped build this country, let’s make them part of our folklore

It’s rare that life hands us the opportunity to add a positive narrative to the history books. But there was just such an opportunity recently, when I was given a platform at the 150th Anniversary of the Golden Spike to honor the 12,000 or more workers of Chinese ancestry who played a key role in building the first transcontinental railroad. These men, nearly 80% of the workforce of the Central Pacific Railroad, endured merciless, harsh, and dangerous conditions to build one of the greatest pieces of infrastructure in our country’s history. Digging and tunneling through the Sierra Nevada mountains with rudimentary tools, many lost their lives. But instead of gratitude for their sacrifice, state and federal laws were passed preventing men and women of Chinese ancestry from becoming American citizens or immigrating to the U.S.

So much has changed in the 150 years since. The Chinese exclusion laws have been repealed and our country has moved forward, becoming the diverse nation it is today. But for more than a century and a half, the Chinese American community has waited patiently for the contributions of the Chinese transcontinental railroad workers to be fully acknowledged and honored.

On May 10, 2019, proper recognition finally came. It was a reminder that as our country becomes more diverse, there is a tremendous hunger out there for the achievements of all the groups who helped make America great to be recognized and celebrated.

That’s a sentiment I hear more and more from the Asian Pacific American community, which is one of the fastest growing in this country. In just 50 years, Asian Pacific Americans have gone from approximately 1% to nearly 7% of our country’s population. They take pride in the fact that, with their emphasis on strong families, education, and hard work, Asian Pacific Americans are contributing much to the growth and strength of our country. Just look at the unemployment rate for Asian Pacific Americans: an astonishingly low 2.2%. Many Asian Pacific Americans find great comfort that someone in the president’s Cabinet looks like them and shares their journey.

Yet for all their success, Asian Pacific Americans can still feel uncomfortable. At the Golden Spike ceremonies, I heard from Asian Americans who felt that for too long their ancestors’ contributions have been relegated to a mere footnote in history. Popular culture does not always make the distinction between Chinese Americans (who were either born here or made the free choice to become American citizens) and Chinese nationals. Other Asian Americans are increasingly dismayed at quota systems designed to limit their children’s access to a first-class education. To a community that has experienced so many historical obstacles to becoming full-fledged Americans, these developments have the all-too-familiar ring of the past.

This administration is leading by establishing a special initiative, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (of which I am co-chair) to help advance the economic empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. An executive order has also been issued affirming the principle that access to higher education must respect merit, and not diminish those who have sacrificed, invested in themselves, and achieved academic excellence. These actions address deep aspirations within the Asian Pacific American community.

But there is always more that can be done. Recognizing the seminal contribution of the Chinese transcontinental railroad workers is a good start to a more inclusive history. My hope is that their astounding achievement will become part of American folklore, known to every schoolchild and every American, in recognition of the vast and wonderful coat of many colors that makes our nation great.

Elaine Chao is secretary of transportation.

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