William Wong is proud of his surname.
It’s Gee, not Wong. But the world knows him only as a Wong.
His family was one of many Chinese families who immigrated to America before World War II.(pictured Angel Island Immigration Station, courtesy California State Parks)
“We knew when we were growing up in Oakland Chinatown we were the Gee family,” said William.
Wong was a name the mother bought using false papers to get around the Chinese Exclusion Act, the only law to this day that ever to ban immigration based on nationality. William’s mom came to America pretending to be her father’s sister.
She was one thousands of paper sons and daughters who came to America this way.
William is so proud if being a Gee he has the name tattooed to his left bicep, and now in his 70’s, plans to legally change his name to Gee.
You can hear two other family stories in the clip from NPR below.
What’s your story?