Paper Son, Immigrant Voice

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Jimmy Yip, merchant seaman circa 1944-45
Jimmy Yip, merchant seaman circa 1944-45

My father was always known as Jimmy , or Uncle Jimmy to my cousins.  He came to the United States as Kwong Fook Yip but left us in 1998 as Hen Seung Yip.  He was a “paper son,” but always Jimmy Yip to my sisters and I.  His recollections of poverty in 1930’s China were riveting, as were his experiences traveling to the United States to meetup with his father.  During the war he was a riveter at Douglas Aircraft, and served as a U.S. merchant seaman as the war ended.
Our family grew up in the progressive movement within the SF Chinese community, which endured tremendous repression during the McCarthy era.  All of which has been documented by the late H. Mark Lai, a family friend and renown dean of Chinese-American history.
Self-educated, Jimmy was a columnist who wrote under a pen name, contributing to the now defunct New York–based, progressive newspaper China Daily News.
In August 2011, my sister Shannon, director of the Chinese Folk Dance Association of San Francisco, and retired Oakland elementary school principal, was informed by one of her colleagues of a Chinese language website which featured a history of our dad.  Shannon was fluent in the Chinese dialects of Cantonese, Taisanese and Mandarin, however she only succeeded in making a partial translation of this short biography.  So I asked Mabel Long of the Chinese-American Planning Council to help me translate this article.  The original web article, and Mabel’s translation are presented here.

Place(s): China, San Francisco Bay Area, New York

– Steven Yip

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant