William Wong was born and grew up in Oakland, California's Chinatown, the youngest child and only son of seven children of immigrants from China, Gee Seow Hong and Gee Suey Ting. His parents ran The Great China restaurant in the heart of Chinatown from 1943 to 1961. He attended Oakland public schools, the University of California at Berkeley, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and he worked in both mainstream and ethnic journalism for more than forty years.
(See Introduction for the story of
how Wong became a journalist and writer.)
In addition to Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America, Wong is the author of Images of America: Oakland's Chinatown, a photo history, which was published by Arcadia Publishing Co. in the autumn of 2004. Wong won a California Council for the Humanities California Stories grant to conduct oral history interviews of Oakland Chinese Americans who grew up in the early 20th century. For information about the oral history project and the book Oakland's Chinatown, visit www.oaklandchinatownhistory.org.
Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America (Temple University Press, 2001), www.yellowjournalist.com, is a collection of columns, essays, commentaries and stories that chronicle the Asian American experience. Wong writes about growing up in Oakland's Chinatown, Asian American history, social and racial justice, anti-Asian racism, race relations, immigration, media portrayals, and politics, among other topics. The book is the result of Wong's work as a journalist and inside observer of Asian America's dynamic role in a changing America.
Currently a freelance writer, Wong writes for progressive nonprofit organizations and foundations, such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation. His journalism career included writing for The Wall Street Journal, the Oakland Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, Asian Week, salon.com, and other news outlets.
A pioneer among Asian American journalists, Wong has been a columnist, reporter, editorial writer, business editor, assistant managing editor, and ombudsman. Among his most significant achievements were in-depth news feature stories about a growing Asian American community for The Wall Street Journal's front page in the 1970s and his provocative columns about Asian America, race relations, multiculturalism and a changing America.
Wong has been a regional commentator on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" on the Public Broadcasting System and a guest commentator on other national and local radio and television public affairs shows.
He has won awards from, among others, the Organization of Chinese Americans, the New California Media, National Conference of Christians and Jews, Media Alliance of San Francisco, the Asian American Journalists Association, the World Affairs Council of Northern California and the San Francisco Press Club.
Wong was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines in the mid-1960s, a Jefferson Fellow (East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii) in 1983 and a National Press Foundation Fellow for its Multiracial Society conference in June 1998.
He has traveled extensively through Asia, Europe and South Africa. Wong has taught journalism at the University of California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, San Francisco State University, and Dominican University, San Rafael. He has also taught Asian American Studies at San Francisco State. He is a frequent speaker to community, civic and education groups.