On October 18,as part of the recently opened “Chinese American Inclusion/Exclusion“ exhibit at the New York Historical Society, AABANY performed a shortened version of its highly engaging ”22 Lewd Chinese Women“ Trial Reenactment, led again by Hon. Denny Chin. In yet another performance of this popular trial reenactment since the 2013 NAPABA Convention, we examined important issues of immigration, federalism, human trafficking, and civil rights in the case of Chy Lung v. Freeman via performance, narration, discussion, and photography. The New York Historical Society’s audience did not consist primarily of lawyers, showing the widespread impact of the case not just in the legal community, but the community at large. The reenactment’s appeal beyond the traditional legal community was apparent in the laughter of the audience as well as lively discussion that followed.
Following the shortened version of the script, Hon. Denny Chin, Kathy Hirata Chin, Vince Chang, and David Weinberg led a discussion about the historical impact of anti-Asian discrimination and the unknown fate of the 22 Chinese women, exposing the many ironies of the case, including the fact that the women had indeed won their freedom in court and yet were still probably forced into lives of prostitution. Hon. Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin, the writers of the dramatic script and leaders of AABANY’s well-received trial reenactments, discussed how the case’s ruling that federal government have precedence in matters of immigration ironically paved the way for Chinese Exclusion Acts. The examination of the "22 Lewd Chinese Women” explored the hypocrisy and political aspects of Asian American history, and yet marked how far our community has come.
(Photos courtesy of Francis Chin and Simone Nguyen.)