Chairman’s Letter

To all our esteemed members,

I’ve been recently elected and will have the pleasure and great honor to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. I shall continue to build on the chamber’s success; and with everyone’s help, together we will continue to grow our Chamber’s visibility, involvement, and influence in the Greater Cincinnati economic region.

I would like to thank our Executive Director, Tessa Xuan, and our immediate past Chair, Mr. Jin Kong, Esq., Chairman during 2016-2017, for their services to this Chamber. Under their leadership, our Chamber continued on the path of becoming one of the most active membership-based organizations in our geographic area. Mr. Kong will remain with the Board as Chair Emeritus and will continue to serve as trusted advisor. Ms. Tessa Xuan remains our faithful Executive Director leading our day-to-day operations.

Also, I want to thank Ms. Hui-Pin Sepulveda (Deloitte), Ms. Rhonda Schechter (Frost Brown Todd), Mr. John Guo (Fifth Third Bank) and Mr. Franklin Lim (The Kroger Co.) for their involvement and great work as part of Chamber’s 2016-2017 Executive Team.

Most of you know that 2017 is the year of the Rooster and we will be welcoming in 2018 the year of the Dog. It is traditionally believed that the upcoming Year of the Earth Dog is a good time for lifestyle changes and for the start of new business ventures. We hope you will join us for more good things throughout this new year. Be part of our family as we embark on a new phase for our Chamber: a time where we will focus on our members, their wellbeing, their growth and new relations.

Collaboration is the relentless goal of our Executive Director. Ms. Tessa Xuan sincerely believes that this Chamber needs to work more closely and together with our members as well as help them collaborate with one another. Our future focus is to connect and bridge the gap between Greater China and our region. When people work together everyone benefits: the company, the people, the community.

As Chairman, I will welcome and highlight involvements of our members. I hope to encouraging them to reach out and inform us of their specific needs. I also hope to see more member companies stepping up to contribute time, effort, and resources to build our common business interest between this region and Greater China.

This coming year is an opportunity to fine-tune our programming for the inclusion of all member categories, should they be fortune 500 companies or mom-and-pop noodle shops. I will solicit their input and ideas for bettering our community, bringing all sides together for a stronger regional economic ecosystem. My personal commitment is to help people connect, create and develop relationships. My desire and future focus as the new Chairman will be to expand upon the relations we carved thus far.

With the leadership of our Executive Director, Tessa Xuan, and the help of my fellow Executive Committee Officers, 1st Vice-Chair Ms. Rufan Li (University of Cincinnati), 2nd Vice-Chair Mr. Marvin Cunningham (Long-Stanton Mfg.), Treasurer Mr. Kevin Kahn (K2 Industrial Controls Int’l Ltd.) and Board Secretary Ms. Rhonda Schechter (Frost Brown Todd), I hope to take our great Chamber of Commerce to new levels of excellence and recognition.

Thank you all for being part of our Chamber family.

Sincerely,

Catalin Macarie
Assistant Professor – Educator of Management
Business Essentials, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Director of Freshmen Experience
Carl H. Lindner College of Business
University of Cincinnati

Enduring immigration perspectives: the “contradictory and impossible”? or a hopeless aspiration?

Jin Kong, Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce Board Chair, has been working at the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) for six months through a fellowship with The Mission Continues. He is looking to “receive a better understanding of the populist sentiment towards immigrants in Cincinnati.” Through this research, Kong will be sharing weekly blog posts through GCWAC’s website on Chinese culture in Cincinnati. Click here to read more of his blogs.

The word “immigration” comes from the Latin verb “immigrare” and is generally used to mean coming into a place for the purpose of permanent residence. Philosophically, we are all “immigrare’s” of some sort; and conceptually, “immigration” is not in itself controversial.

But it becomes a contentious topic when compounded with the complexities of human creations—for example, racial or religious prejudices. To best put it,

“We demand the contradictory and impossible. We desire [immigrants] to be excluded because of our own prejudices and admitted because of our need of the sort of productive energy which they posses, and because we realize that one, if not the chief, of all the glories of this country, is that the asylumship for the unfortunates of practically every race of people on earth.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, Japanese Immigration, June 26, 1920; emphasis added.)   

The topic of immigration (distinguished from the concept) therefore becomes an easily self-serving one. On the one hand, we utilize it to create an “us” versus “them” phenomenon, so that we can easily articulate and justify our fear to our advantage. On the other hand, we utilize it as a contrite method of discussing labor economics at our convenience; we are capitalists, after all.

This playacting on the topic is nothing new. It is easily recognizable today on both sides of the political aisle. It is naive to think this phenomenon does not reach far back into our country’s history, or that it does not permeate to all walks of life. Perhaps naivety is simply my ideological denial, but I find what was old is now new again. The topic‘s self-serving seems evergreen for its worth in political or economic gains.

For example, an 1878 Cincinnati Enquirer editorial piece articulating the immigration problem in California:

“Appeals to Congress for protection are circulating all over the State, and are signed by all except those who profit in some way … the body of this Asiatic death which is weighing down the people of the [California] state and paralyzing every industry of the coast. …  but when the field of labor is full here they will go east and south.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, California’s Curse, Feb 11, 1878).

Another 1880 editorialist’s title simply read:

“Garfield’s Death Warrant – His famous letter advocating an extended Chinese immigration, he declares himself adverse to the laboring man’s interest and is favor of the employer’s union, advising them to employ the cheapest labor available.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, October 23, 1880; it should be noted that James Garfield, a Ohio native, was elected the 20th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1881 until his assassination later that year.)   

And one from 1911 reads:

“Limiting the number of new comers permitted to land during a year from certain specific countries believed to send undesirable materials … they insist that there is a scarcity of labor in this country …. The objection made by some that as things are going the country will become Roman Catholic [are regarded] as cowardly and narrow in a land of religious tolerance and freedom …” (Cincinnati Enquirer Immigration Consideration, January 29, 1911).

Finally, the topic of immigration has also been tagged with the kind of self-serving opinion in the context of post-Civil War African American migrations. (E.g., Cincinnati Enquirer, The Rights of Labor – Negro Immigration, July 16, 1862; South Carolina Now and as She Was, February 17, 1871).

But is this topic strictly limited to being self-serving? Or is there some hope in being the naive:

“To the Members of the Volunteer Associations & other Inhabitants of the Kingdom of Ireland who have lately arrived in the City of New York.

Gentlemen …

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent & respectable Stranger, but the oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights & privileges, if by decency & propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.”

From George Washington to Joshua Holmes, 2 December 1783.

In 1783, George Washington welcomed new Irish immigrants in the City of New York and his remark suggests something important, does it not? 

First, the “opulent and respectable Stranger” as well as the “oppressed & persecuted of all Nations & Religions” are equally entitled to participate in “all our rights & privileges” set forth in the Constitution. Second, this entitlement of participation is condition upon the participant’s “decency and propriety of conduct” that merit the enjoyment of such equal protection and opportunity.  

Immigration to the United States has never been just about humanitarianism, politics, or economics. This country is not a place where the road is paved with gold and our democratic republic is not just about handing out its preciousness to all who walk upon its streets. Perhaps immigration is an aspiration of a national strategy—a call to participate in the constitutional experiment as we know it; and in such an experiment, it is important to remember that we are great together not by asking what we shall receive, but what we can do to contribute.

In the famous words of the good who died young:

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

So while this country’s immigration history may prove to be self-serving at times; its founding principles may be worth saving, at least for a naive immigrant such as myself.  

Jin Kong is a fellow through Mission Continues working with GCWAC. Original articles found here.

The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) is a 501(c)(3) international non-profit organization that builds global understanding and promotes international awareness through education, information, and exchange of people and ideas. We work in cooperation with the government, companies, as well as cultural and educational bodies. CLICK HERE for more information.

The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. Their operations in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside non-profit partners and community leaders to solve some of the most challenging issues facing our communities: improving community education resources, eliminating food deserts, mentoring at-risk youth and more. Through this unique model, veterans build new skills and networks that help them successfully reintegrate into life after the military while making long-term, sustainable transformations in communities and inspiring future generations to serve. CLICK HERE for more information.