Friday, January 25, 2008

The Chinese bone rush in Boyle Heights, L.A.

Beyond all the stories about its poor planning and maintenance of our city's public transportation system that our wonderful L.A. bloggers frequently report, th's gotta be the most ridiculous story I've read about the MTA that Downtown Chick can share with everybody:

California Local News: An emotional custody dispute over history out on January 24, 2008

Once upon a time, the MTA found some Chinese bones in Boyle Heights from the 20C when they're building the Gold Line and still don't know what to do with them now.

The Americans: "Look let's mass-rebury them somewhere ASAP. I'll pay. I don't wanna be rude (but I don't really know what I'm supposed to do. I'm just an American guy in Los Angeles). Aw, you want some cha?"

Chinese people: "No, no, let's find out who these people are. Mom says that's what we do for the dead. Oh but wait, I'm tight this month. You mind paying for it just this time? Promise, won't happen again. Chinese people only die once."

The nearby school: "No no, gimme that gimme that. Let me do a show and fabricate some grant winning papers out of it. You know how rare Cal State L.A. has a chance to step up in Anthropology? That's like winning the American Idol."

Got that?

So all of a sudden everybody wants the Chinese bones. The bones that have been there for over a hundred years, then on the hands of the clueless MTA for another three years. The bones that supported 128 nameless Chinese men who helped build this city, one of the biggest cities in North America, then died in a foreign place anonymously.

This's so L.A. Somebody please shoot me. I can't be a more jaded Angeleno Chinese bitch. Blame Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge.

1 comment:

Narinda said...

Thanks for posting this. I probably never would have heard about it otherwise.

I think that it is noble to want to properly bury the bones, but I don't disagree with the idea of Cal State LA studying them-- most US history books barely acknowledge the contributions of early East Asian immigrants, and, as Mike Ten said, "an opportunity for history like this only comes every generation. This is our chance to capture it." As disrespectful as it may feel, I don't think it would be wrong.