In 2001, Elaine Chao, a Harvard Business School graduate who had served as chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission and assistant secretary of transportation, made history as the first Chinese American to accept a Cabinet position when President George W. Bush named her secretary of labor.
Now she’s Donald Trump’s Transportation Secretary, offering up a profile with many surprises.
Not long before the incomparable Iris Chang committed suicide near my former home rental in Los Gatos, California — a dozen years to this month on November 9th — lonely, and convinced that she was being hounded by “authorities”… she spoke with me about Elaine Chao and a number of other Chinese Americans who had “made it” in our racist society.
In her The Chinese in America, we find her speaking of Chao,
“When her critics attacked her business ties with China, her husband, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saw ‘subtle racism,’ ‘yellow fever,’ and xenophobic attitudes in the media.” That was embedded in the book adjacent to the description I open with here above.
But below all of the surface, superficial commentary, Iris confided a number of details, provided an alternative point of view about Chao and her “successful counterparts” like David Wu (the first Chinese American ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives). She didn’t want to speak in public about them negatively — understandably — in much the same vein that African-Americans were…