The U.S. is my home and I have never felt afraid until now. The rise in violence in Asian-American violence is making me speak out now. Stop the hate.
Ive never been afraid of anything in my life. Those that know me, my daughters especially, can attest to this: Their mother is fearless. Ive 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 didnt 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. Ive 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 Ive 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, Ive never felt discrimination overtly. Looking back, Im fairly sure there were instances of racism, but I probably didnt recognize it at the time. Back then, I was focused on finishing school, working on my career and getting ahead. I think todays generation, my daughters generation especially, really understands diversity. And Im really encouraged to see them speak about it and rally behind it. Im probably really late to the game since Ive never protested for anything and Ive 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 Ive 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 its affected them, and its also impacting me now. With the ongoing anti-Asian attacks across the country, Im afraid to walk freely in my own community. For the first time, Im 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. Im not sure how helpful it is to speak out. And Im 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 dont, then Im not honoring our Asian Americans.
Im 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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