Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Why Asian Americans Should Stand. Together.

loc_h_nguyen

--

In high school we used to joke around about the Asian Invasion taking place in Milpitas. It’s a relatively small town, just north of San Jose, here in California. Back then, if you were to somehow miss the stench spewing from the local dumping grounds, you might have driven right by, on your way to where you really wanted to be.

That’s how lower tier families like mine were able to move in. We were poor in just about every way imaginable, except for the fact that my parents and my two uncles, who lived with us to make ends meet, were the hardest workers I’d ever known. From morning till night, from one day to another, they worked. And they worked hard.

Perhaps the town itself never expected it, especially not during the days when fruit orchards occupied the land. I doubt they ever thought Milpitas would be repurposed into a mini-suburbia for Silicon Valley working folks. Nor would they have guessed that the farms of the past would run out of space for the dreams of the future. Dreams that us Asian kids came up with, as we prominently represented the student population at Milpitas High, as we studied our way through the maze and became formidable success stories, despite our humble beginnings.

For all intents and purposes, things were great in our little bubble. In the middle of California.

What is happening?

It’s been nearly thirty years since then, and things just aren’t so great any more. We’re in the midst of the COVID era, and I’d venture to say it’s gotten worse across the board, whether we care to admit it or not. Both racism and senseless violence have seen new heights in the past year, and things have taken a turn for the worse. It’s so bad that we, the products of the aforementioned invasion, alongside just about every other Asian-looking person in America, are collectively blamed for the existence of the Kung Flu and how it’s wreaked havoc across the world. So bad that here, in our very own backyard, our elderly folks are being attacked, victimized and killed. In broad daylight, as if they had anything to do with any of this.

It’s appalling and fucked up, to say the least.

“What is happening?” is not a rhetorical question. Rather, it’s a statement. It’s a challenge I’m placing in front of each of you, especially my fellow Asian Americans. I’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about it all, wondering if I have the courage to stand up and speak my mind. Wondering if I could ever be at peace, knowing about the hurt and the pain, yet turning a blind eye, continuing to hide behind a false veil of success.

Truth is, there is no success if our Asian American community continues to suffer at the hands of racists. Because if we don’t change things now, and if things get worse, that will be the world our children will be living in. That will be the path we’ve given them.

So what are we going to do about this?

There’s no question that being a bystander and doing nothing makes you an accomplice to these crimes against our people. We simply cannot stand by and submit to the model minority stereotype any longer. Quiet and passive and successful? That’s what got us here in the first place.

I’m not asking you to become an overnight activist, to attend protests, or to do anything you’re not comfortable with. That’s simply for you to think about and decide.

But, I am asking for you to stand alongside me, as I lend my words to our collective voice. And though success is neither guaranteed nor assumed, I’ll still be here trying. In fact, I feel things coming full circle, as if my various paths were meant to lead to this very place. That’s why I decided to write this letter, on behalf of the work that’s ahead of our community, on behalf of those who are, still to this day, victimized because somehow, someone thinks it’s okay.

It’s our time.

The time has come for us to all stand and valiantly represent.

You see, places like Milpitas underpin so many of our Asian American stories. Small towns and seemingly safe harbors across the States where our families chose to build their dreams. The struggles, the resolve, the determination. It’s taken so many of us, over the course of so many decades, to have created what we have today in America. Our stories are beautiful and ambitious, inspiring and audacious.

I’ll tell you this. I intend to keep things this way for the next generation of Asian Americans, those coming strong with everything they have. And I wholeheartedly believe in serving as the stewards of their safety, their happiness, and their success. We owe it to them, and to the courageous generations before us.

That is why we, as Asian Americans, should now stand. Together.

P.S. If this essay resonated with you, continue to read more, and please share with others as we further develop our communities, one reader at a time.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lhnguyen2/

--

--

loc_h_nguyen

lending my words to our collective Asian American voice