Updated: Sep 2
As a kid of immigrant parents in the midwest, we - as a family - always tried so hard to fit in and just blend in. When you think about it, you sacrifice the most important parts of yourself in doing such a thing and even start feeling as if somehow those different parts of you are shameful and need to be hidden! At the time, though - especially during those Vincent Chin days in Michigan - it seemed in our best interest to keep our heads down and just keep quiet.
It wasn’t until I was an adult in NYC that I realized I could and should embrace who I am without a certain fear or shame, and that it was even okay to make waves when warranted. Especially as a mom and then a teacher to young people, I realized that one of the most important roles we have as educators is to teach our kids about the beauty of inclusion and diversity - and to truly own it in how we live our lives. We are stronger together. My good friend posted an amazing clip on Facebook and if you haven’t seen it, please check it out: Oscar Hammerstein introduces “You’ve Got to be Taught”.
I want to say one more thing. One of the reasons why Vincent Chin’s murderers were not properly brought to justice is because people looked the other way. Vincent Chin was Chinese and the Chinese community in Michigan was tiny. Other East Asians in even tinier communities (Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean, etc.) did not come together as a Pan-Asian group to fight together. Maybe back then, even as US Citizens, we still felt as guests in this country and didn’t realize yet that this was also our own battle to fight. I would like to believe things are different today, almost 40 years have passed since this particular hate crime, but I am really not sure given recent headlines.
I identify as Taiwanese and not Chinese, but as long as there is racism against the Chinese, it is my problem. And as long as African-Americans live in fear and so many unarmed end up dead in our country, that is my problem, too. Whatever color of the rainbow you are, this is our collective problem and we must not look the other way. #blacklivesmatter.