The Coalition for Asian Justice, a Monterey County organization representing numerous Asian American communities, is calling for the Pacific Grove City Council to end permanently the city’s annual Feast of Lanterns (FOL) because it appropriates Chinese culture and history, causes deep hurt to Asians and has no relationship to anything Chinese. Continuation of the FOL will only perpetuate the bitter sorrow it has caused.
The issue will come before the Pacific Grove City Council at its 6 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, February 16, in the council chambers. Here is the CAJ’s statement:
The Feast of Lanterns is a gross cultural appropriation as evidenced by Caucasian teen-age girls who were initially made up with yellow face colorings and with eyes taped to look “slanted” and ”Chinese.” The mythical event at Lovers Point supposedly honors Chinese culture and history but has no authentic portrayals of Chinese traditions nor any acknowledgment of the sad history of the Chinese immigrants in Pacific Grove. They were, in fact, forcibly driven out by P.G. residents, who shamefully looted the Chinese village at Point Alones — now the site of the Hopkins Marine Station — after the village burned down in 1906.
Despite many years of effort by the late Gerry Low-Sabado, whose Chinese ancestors settled at Point Lobos in the middle of the 19th century, and who died last year, the FOL Board seems unable to understand why this event should end.
The Pacific Grove City Council lists “inclusion” as a core value, but the FOL and the attitude of its board, past and present, completely contradicts that concept.
The cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Antioch have issued unreserved apologies for past racism against Asians, acknowledging the harm caused. It is past time for P.G. to act similarly, beginning with ending the FOL.
On April 24, 2021, a rally was held in front of Monterey’s Colton Hall to protest the rise in racism against and attacks on members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities (AAPI). Tragically, such incidents continue. Events such as the Feast of Lanterns will continue to enable the misrepresentation, disregard, and intolerance for Chinese in particular, and Asians in general.