I am not an activist, but now I’m speaking out. End the hate against Asian-Americans

I’ve never been afraid of anything in my life. Those that know me, my daughters especially, can attest to this: Their mother is fearless. I’ve always felt that if you work hard and follow your passion, you can achieve anything, especially here in America.

I was born in Taiwan and grew up in Africa. My family came to America in 1972 when I was 7 years old. I didn’t speak a word of English, only French and Chinese. We lived all along the East Coast, and my brother and I changed schools almost every year from grade school to high school. My p­arents are originally from China. They moved to Taiwan to escape communism and brought us to America after a stint in Africa.

My father worked at a Chinese restaurant and later became a mushroom farmer. My mother was a waitress, acupuncture assistant and stay-at-home mom. I’ve never heard my parents complain about the country or how they were treated as Asians. I was brought up to know that we are American citizens. Even though I’ve traveled all over the world and worked in six continents over the past 35 years, America is my home, where my family and I have felt comfortable living and thriving.

Today, I feel differently

All through my life, I’ve never felt discrimination overtly. Looking back, I’m fairly sure there were instances of racism, but I probably didn’t recognize it at the time. Back then, I was focused on finishing school, working on my career and getting ahead. I think today’s generation, my daughters’ generation especially, really understands diversity. And I’m really encouraged to see them speak about it and rally behind it. I’m probably really late to the game since I’ve never protested for anything and I’ve never been an activist or vocal champion for social justice. But today I feel differently.

Min Chang, CEO of Kin On, on Nov. 3, 2020, in Seattle. (Photo: Lillian Young/family courtesy)

Although I’ve never experienced it myself, I know my daughters, friends and colleagues have experienced the anti-Asian racism exacerbated by the pandemic. It hurts me deeply to see how it’s affected them, and it’s also impacting me now. With the ongoing anti-Asian attacks across the country, I’m afraid to walk freely in my own community. For the first time, I’m afraid to live in my own country. Seeing video after video of Asians, especially elderly Asians, being assaulted really hit home for me. I know many would agree with me when I say that elderly Asians are some of the kindest, most selfless people in the world. My own parents are a testament to that.

Hate against Asian-Americans: Violence and hate against Asian Americans is a health and safety crisis for everyone

Every time I check the news, the violence only seems to be getting worse. I’m not sure how helpful it is to speak out. And I’m fearful that my speaking out may harm myself and my family. But as a 55-year-old Asian woman, who grew up in this country and has never felt limited or constrained in this country, I also believe I have an obligation to speak out for all of us. If I don’t, then I’m not honoring our Asian Americans.

I’m still afraid, but I think you need a little fear to make progress. And fear can be a great motivator. So, please stop the hate. We are all Americans.

Min Chang is CEO of Kin On, an Asian American nursing home in Seattle.

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