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Products for grant FEL-268440-20

FEL-268440-20
Chinese American Mothering Across Generations: Toy Len Goon and the Creation and Recirculation of the Model Minority Myth
Andrea Louie, Michigan State University

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FEL-268440-20

A Model Minority and a Model Mother: U.S. Mother of the Year, Toy Len Goon (1952)” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: A Model Minority and a Model Mother: U.S. Mother of the Year, Toy Len Goon (1952)”
Author: Andrea Louie
Abstract: In 1952, Toy Len Goon was selected as U.S. Mother of the Year. She was brought to Washington D.C. to be introduced to Congress and meet with Bess Truman and Ambassador Koo of Taiwan. Having emigrated to the U.S. to join her husband at the age of 29, she raised eight children while running a hand laundry after her husband died. She was publicly lauded for raising “good American citizens” without the aid of a husband and while refusing welfare. But she was also chosen because she was a Chinese American woman who could exemplify the virtues of mothering and of American upward mobility. As the U.S. endeavored to extend influence in Asia, her D.C. visit had been orchestrated by Maine Rep. Robert Hale, in what the media termed “a blow in the Cold War for Asia” (Yeh 2012). While the WW II period marked a distinct shift in the portrayal of Chinese American women and family, the 1950s Cold War period also saw a broader focus on women and mothers as preservers of domesticity and the nuclear family in the U.S., in contrast to their counterparts in the Soviet Union who were suffering under Communist rule. This focus was accompanied by increasing recognition that this domestic life was not always possible or desirable, particularly for women of color. As newspaper coverage of her selection as Mother of the Year illustrated, Toy Len Goon was celebrated as a model mother, but there was disagreement on whether this was because she fulfilled traditional roles of domesticity, or because she was breaking out of that role by running a business to support her family. The fact that her life story could be interpreted in various ways to support specific ideas of family and women’s roles was in part because she in fact occupied the roles of both homemaker and business owner. As I discuss in this paper, interviews with her children reveal the double burden she was forced to take on, providing a perspective that complicates celebratory views of her roles in the home.
Date: 11/20/20

“A Model Minority?: The Story of Toy Len Goon” (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: “A Model Minority?: The Story of Toy Len Goon”
Abstract: Lecture for Model Minority Class, Dr. Linling Gao-Miles. Washington University, St. Louis
Author: Andrea Louie
Date: 10/22/20
Location: Over Zoom

Women’s Leadership Forum: A Purposed Plan (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Women’s Leadership Forum: A Purposed Plan
Abstract: Panelist for Women's Leadership Program through UCAN. I was asked because of my appearance on the PBS Asian Americans documentary in which I talked about Toy Len Goon's story.
Author: Andrea Louie
Date: 11/13/20
Location: Over Zoom (UCAN is in Chicago)

Presentation on Toy Len Goon (Course or Curricular Materials)
Title: Presentation on Toy Len Goon
Author: Andrea Louie
Abstract: Presentation for Asian American Heritage Month for The Avenues School, New York
Year: 2021
Audience: K - 12

From Chinese Laundress to Mother of the Year: Bringing the Story of Toy Len Goon Beyond the Model Minority Myth (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: From Chinese Laundress to Mother of the Year: Bringing the Story of Toy Len Goon Beyond the Model Minority Myth
Abstract: Presentation for the Maine Historical Society In 1952, Toy Len Goon, a modest widow and mother of eight, was selected as Maine Mother of the Year, and then for the national title, by the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Foundation. An immigrant from China, she came to the U.S. in 1921 as the wife of Dogan Goon, a WWI veteran and laundryman. After Dogan became disabled and unable to work, passing away in 1941, she and her children ran the laundry and household, located at 615 Forest Ave in Portland, ME. However, there is much of Toy Len Goon's story that was not told by the media coverage celebrating her honor. As one of Toy Len Goon’s grandchildren, but also a cultural anthropologist, Dr. Andrea Louie places her story within a fuller context in the hopes of doing justice to her legacy as not only a mother, but a woman who broke out of a number of traditional roles, while also remaining filial to relatives back in China.
Author: Andrea Louie
Date: 6/17/21
Location: Maine Historical Society, Portland, ME (over Zoom)
Primary URL: https://www.mainehistory.org/events/event/1031/video

Text for Panel on Toy Len Goon for Maine Historical Society Exhibition "Begin Again: Reckoning with Intolerance in Maine" (Exhibition)
Title: Text for Panel on Toy Len Goon for Maine Historical Society Exhibition "Begin Again: Reckoning with Intolerance in Maine"
Curator: Tilly Laskey
Abstract: I provided text for the panel on Toy Len Goon for Tilly Laskey, Curator.
Year: 2021
Primary URL: https://www.mainehistory.org/museum_VR_walkthrough.shtml
Primary URL Description: This URL is for the full exhibition for which I contributed the panel.


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