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Podcast Looks To 1871 L.A. Chinatown Massacre
‘Blood on Gold Mountain’ tells the story through the eyes of a young female Chinese refugee
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Credit: Blood on Gold Mountain
UPDATED STORY, April 7, 2021
A new episode of "Blood on Gold Mountain" debuts today. The new episode, entitled "Rebels," is described in the show notes as: "In some ways, one might think of this episode as containing our version of a land acknowledgement. Immigrants are always trying to listen to natives and learn from them, and I thought Yut Ho and Ah Choy deserved a chance to do so."
The podcast "Blood on Gold Mountain" debuts Wednesday. It tells the story of the 1871 L.A. Chinatown massacre through the eyes of Yut-Ho, a young woman who arrives in California as a refugee.
As we see recent news of a mass shooting in Atlanta taking the lives of six Asian women, “Blood on Gold Mountain” arrives to remind us that anti-Asian hate crimes are sadly nothing new. The seven-part podcast looks at one of the largest race lynchings in the U.S.
Huang, the father, moved to California from the East Coast and noted, "I was here for at least 15 years before I even heard about the 1871 L.A. Chinatown massacre. It was a mob of about 500 people, which comprised about 10% of the entire population of L.A. at that time, who dragged out and lynched about 20 Chinese and that was a huge proportion of the Chinese in L.A. at the time in Chinatown there were only about 100 people. So that was 20% of the population of Chinatown was killed in two hours. I never heard of this massacre on the East Coast. My children were never taught about it in their L.A. district schools, even through through 12 years, primary and secondary. So I wanted to know why. And this podcast in certain ways is one of a series of of things we've done to honor those dead by remembering their past."
In addition to documenting the tragedy that took place, the podcast also tells a lively story of a heated love triangle and gang war. Micah, who wrote the scripts, did not want focus only on the massacre but also on creating a sense of the people, the Chinese community at the time, and the events leading up to the tragedy.
"Even though I have so much reverence for the tragedy of the deaths that are involved in the massacre, I felt like the lives of the characters were at least as important from the point of view of somebody looking at it over this long span of history, Micah said. "I really wanted to bring to life really vibrant and realistic Chinese American characters whose personalities and experiences are based on a combination of historical information that I've gathered through research, but also family stories from people who I'm very close to having to do with the refugee experience, having to do with being an immigrant in the United States and also, unfortunately, having to do with racist violence and hostility."
In the first episode audiences are introduced to Yut-Ho and her brother as well as to some of the conditions under which they lived. At one point Huang, who narrates the story, explains that at that time Chinese were forced to live outside the law. They were not allowed to speak to a judge unless it's to accuse another Chinese person or Native American or Mexican of a crime. That meant anyone could bring down the law on them and they had essentially no recourse.
The podcast was conceived in 2019 when the Black Lives Matter movement raised the country's consciousness about racism. For Huang it made him ask why had this incident been so ignored.
"I think this is something that's really pivotal to to understanding race relations," Huang, the elder, said. "Why do we neglect or even in certain ways erase the memory of something that happened in L.A., which was the bloodiest race riot on the West Coast?"
Huang grew up in what he described as a "racist little town in New Jersey where the sheriff and mayor were publicly members of the KKK." The fact that racism continues to this day saddens him and he hopes the podcast can help combat that kind of prejudice.
"So we're trying, I think, to to counter that by emphasizing humanity, because by denying the humanity of others, we destroy our own humanity and everybody winds up less," Huang said.
Michah sees a connection between 1871 and now: "Both in the early 1870s and now in our time there's a lot of economic and social insecurity in the United States, in California, and also in both cases, we have had public figures, most recently former President Donald Trump, but back then, soon to be California Governor Leland Stanford, who have publicly made statements about the inferiority or the dangers posed by Chinese or Asian immigrants. And I think that history kind of moves in these cycles sometimes and it's very much by being conscious of the cycles as they've happened in the past that we can get a handle on what's happening now and what we are trying to do about it.'
A new episode of the podcast, which is compellingly produced with Micah's music and sound design, will be available every other Wednesday everywhere you listen to podcasts.
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