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San Francisco’s Chinatown combines Chinese and American heritage on Independence Day

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San Francisco’s Chinatown combines Chinese and American heritage on Independence Day

Chinatown in San Francisco prepares for the Fourth of July. A Lion Dance paraded through the streets as part of the celebrations.

Chinatown in San Francisco prepares for the Fourth of July. A Lion Dance paraded through the streets as part of the celebrations.

Jaden Coleman

Chinatown in San Francisco prepares for the Fourth of July. A Lion Dance paraded through the streets as part of the celebrations.

Jaden Coleman

Jaden Coleman

Chinatown in San Francisco prepares for the Fourth of July. A Lion Dance paraded through the streets as part of the celebrations.

Jared Fang, Staff Writer

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CHINATOWN, SAN FRANCISCO–Down the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown, in front of the gift shops and restaurants, two colourful lions dance in celebration of Independence Day.  

Independence Day is a time for celebration, and this popular tourist destination is no different.  As the oldest and largest North American Chinatown in existence, Chinatown San Francisco isn’t any less celebratory than other American communities.   

Jaden Coleman                                                                                           The Dragon Gate entrance to Chinatown San Francisco, one of the largest Chinese-American communities in North America.

 

Initially established in 1848, Chinatown San Francisco remains a hub of Chinese-American activity and cultural identity. Persevering through hard times and intense discrimination, Chinese-American immigrants slowly built up the 30-block neighbourhood, filling the streets with restaurants, gift shops and parks. Today, Chinatown is one of San Francisco’s premier tourist destinations.

Despite being historically subject to gross discrimination in the form of America’s first-ever exclusion act as well as prejudice because of their status as immigrants, the Chinese-American community remains optimistic about the United States. This optimism is reflected through the words and celebrations of people within Chinatown.

“The United States is an open countryvery free,” said Linda, a resident of Chinatown. “We can freely express what we want to do and what we want to say. That’s why we appreciate it so much. We appreciate that we’re allowed to naturally and candidly speak our mind.”

Linda asked to remain anonymous for fear of being identified by the Chinese Communist Party. She has lived in Chinatown for almost seven years.

There are many like her residing in Chinatown San Francisco. Most, if not all, residents of Chinatown are either immigrants who came to the United States for its promise of freedom and opportunity or have ancestors who came in search of those same ideals.

Although their circumstances may not be the same, the appreciation for American values remains widespread amongst the Chinese-American population.

Jaden Coleman
Performers walk toward the starting line of a Lion Dance on the Fourth of July. The dance combined both American and Chinese celebrations.

This appreciation is presented in audio-visual form on the Fourth of July by the performance of the Lion Dance, a traditional Chinese dance meant to spread good luck on special occasions. Accompanied by a cacophony of percussion instruments, two lions, each manned by two performers and decorated in golden tassels with light blue and highlighter pink covers, shake their bodies to the rhythm.

It might seem strange to see the Fourth of July, a holiday usually associated with staunch patriotism, celebrated in such an oriental manner. However, for the Chinese-American community, the Lion Dance is a way of combining American values with Chinese cultural identity.

The United States is heavily influenced by its many minority groups and immigrants. The divergence of countless cultures means that individual cultural celebrations have become integral to American holidays.

The dance, said Shayla Chung, one of the performers, “shows the different cultures in America celebrating the same event in our own way.”

Jared Fang, Staff Writer

Jared Fang is a rising junior at the International School of Beijing, where he is not part of a journalism program.  He loves to read, write, and play...

Jaden Coleman, Staff Writer

Jaden Coleman is a rising junior at iTech Prepratory in Vancouver, Washington. He works for Prep2Prep as a photojournalist and spends the majority of his...

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San Francisco’s Chinatown combines Chinese and American heritage on Independence Day