Stand Up & Stand Strong
Dick Hom, National Moderator of the Pacific Island and Asian American Ministries of the United Church of Christ
I am a first generation Asian-American who was born and raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown. When I was a boy of about 10 or so, I was walking home one evening from Chinese school and taking a short cut through one of the few parks in Chinatown. Halfway through the park I was approached by three white teenage boys who began following me and taunting me. As they got closer, I started walking a little faster but not before the 3 teenagers surrounded me and made threatening moves. But before anything really happened, my older brother appeared. He was looking for me because I was late coming home. The three teenagers slowly went on their way.
This memory came to me last year when I was asked during a anti-racist workshop I attended if I encountered any anti-Chinese issues. Until then I would say that I never felt prejudice or racism because I was Chinese. If it wasn’t for the appearance and support of my brother, who knows what would have happened?
Many have asked me what they can do about the ant-Asian sentiments that are happening in this country. My answer is always Speak Up! Note the 5 things that I mention in my statement, Hate Has No Place Here! You don’t need to get physical or get into a fight. But when you witness someone being abused, insulted or treated wrongly, speak up. Regardless of whether they are Asian or not. You are the light that can bring this type of hatred and mistreatment out of the darkness and into the light.
I share the recent story of a young Asian women taking the subway home from the airport when a white man started harassing her. “Get out of my country” “Go back where you came from.” “We speak American here.” She was afraid to speak out because she was sitting in a corner and was afraid that this man would prevent her from getting off. “I think the worst part was when I tried to look around for help, I saw everyone else in the car with headphones in, heads down. Completely ignoring the situation.”
Stand up and stand strong. Nowadays, I am reminded of the maxim: If not me, who? If not now, when?