Week 5 Reading

During WWII, Chinese immigrants were detained at Angel Island and Ellis Island because of US law. The book “Island” shares the poetry Chinese immigrants wrote on the wall during their time there.
The poems take us through different times in their journeys, through the voyage and their hopes of a better life (primarily economically focused) in America and through their times at Angel/ Ellis Island.
The immigrants on Angel island talked about the hope they had coming to America and how many of them still think about being home. One of the poems in the detention section that really stuck out to me was poem 46, where the author writes about how harsh the exclusion laws were. I also found the, “Why am I imprisoned when I am not guilty,” in poem 52 to be very powerful and a statement that was reflected in many of the other poems.
The poems also express the harsh treatment they faced from doctors and other workers on the island and dehumanizing their situation was. Also, even after spending months of waiting and suffering on the island, the threat of being sent back was very real in the detention centers and reflected in the poetry as well. I found the poetry a very powerful way to understand the minds of immigrants at the detention center and get to hear a little bit of their own perspective as often times we don’t get to see history directly through the lens of the people that suffered.

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