Author: Chunyan Li
Why are we here?
We are here today because we are yellow. Yes that is right, despite advice saying the otherwise, I would like all of us to face the reality.
We are here because we are yellow. Just when we thought the Chinese Exclusions Act was long behind us, we had the government baselessly accuse Chinese American scientists such as Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi as spies. We saw the Japanese interment looming when these innocent scientists were persecuted simply because they are yellow.
So we are here because we are yellow. Just when we thought the American Dream has no color, we are reminded of the term “a Chinaman’s chance” when we saw Peter Liang being convicted for something he has not committed. Assemblyman Colton called the prosecutor’s act of painting Peter Liang as an intentional killer “highly prejudicial and inflammatory.” Do we all agree? Even an African American young lady asked the question on YouTube, “why Liang, who didn’t even have the intent? Is it because he is a minority?” The contrast between the DA and this fair-minded lady can’t be overlooked. How sad, and how ironic!!!
Note some didn’t want us to use the race card, but let’s face the grim reality pointed out by this honest young lady.
We are here because we are yellow. We came to this country partly because of our belief in free speech, in the objective media, and in the fairness of the legal system. Yet we saw so often that TV hosts can condescendingly say, without consequence: “should we allow the Chinese to live?”, “Chinese are all hackers”, thus shamelessly blaming America’s ills on the yellow peril. We saw the half truths around Peter Liang when the media painted him as a heartless person the moment the tragedy occurred, and politicians calling for indictment even before facts were clear. We saw the justice system failed Vincent Chin when the murderers were fined only $3000 dollars, when the judge said “You don’t make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal. These weren’t the kind of men you sent to jail.” Now, does Liang’s conviction fit either the person or the “crime”? That is the question we should all ask.
Thus we are here because we are yellow. Now it takes great courage to face this sentence, typing it down. Because I want to believe the American Dream has no color. My son echoed Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech a little over 2 years ago in Time Square. Do I want him to know that, he not only has to work extra hard because of our “model minority” status, because of the “shy, nerd” stereotypes thrown at him by the media, but now, my deep belief in the justice system is shaken? Do I want him to know the term “a Chinaman’s chance”?
We are here because we are yellow. Shall I tell my kids? Now, many parents would advise me otherwise. They rightly want to shield their children’s innocent mind. But today, I no longer want to be the all protective parent, when I put myself into the shoes of Peter Liang’s mother, when I put myself into the shoes of the families caught in the tension between minority communities and police force. There is no winner in the Liang’s verdict. Will the society become safer after this? Will parents continue to encourage their children to become police officers? Especially Asian families? When is it a proper time to tell my kids?
We are here because we are yellow. It hurts me when I type these words, because how I wish minorities of color can face this reality that, unless we unite and fight for justice together, our dreams will forever be tainted by our skin tones. It is a sad moment for two minority communities, but it doesn’t have to be. I want to imagine, what If we all are like the African American lady on YouTube, to demand those truly are responsible to face the consequence? What if politicians and over zealous prosecutors had not used “political persecution”, rightly called by an article on Independent Sentinel, the two communities?
We are here because we are yellow. During the Civil Rights movement, Asian Americans marched together with Dr. Martin Luther King. Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese American, fought decades for equal rights of the African American community that the government thought she was African American. So why Liang? Is it because the yellow color is seen as perpetual foreigner, an easy target? As law Professor Frank Wu pointed out: “how strange, and how wrong, it is, that the face picked to represent police brutality toward African Americans is Yellow.”
But we are not here solely because we are yellow. We are here because we still have hope, that communities of color can join force to demand true accountability, to demand equal treatment, to eradicate racial profiling, and in the end, to achieve the American Dream.