Since the 1900s, the Mississippi Delta has been home to a large number of Chinese Americans. Many Chinese immigrants moved to the Delta in search of better economic opportunities and opened up family-run grocery stores that mainly targeted black communities in these regions. At its peak, there were hundreds of grocery stores and an estimated 2,500 Chinese people living in the Delta. As the community grew, they inherited a unique socio-economic position in a predominantly biracial society. The Chinese served as middlemen in a segregated society and developed characteristics that differentiated themselves even from Chinese/Asian communities in coastal regions. Despite being deeply rooted in Chinese culture, the Mississippi Delta Chinese assimilated and thrived the rural South, contributing immensely to the region.
In our photojournalism project, we interviewed and photographed 16 members of the Chinese American community who grew up in the Mississippi Delta. We interviewed both the young/old and covered topics like cultural identity, racial equality, regional identity, outlook on life, and perspectives on citizenship. All photos were taken on 35mm and medium-format film.