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Asian Americans in Rhode Island should not be invisible -- or silent

已有 432 次阅读2021-6-8 02:17 |个人分类:美国华人|系统分类:转帖-时事政治经济

AAPI heritage month highlighted the need for members of our community to be empowered to play a greater role

Former Cranston mayor Allan W. Fung.
Former Cranston mayor Allan W. Fung.HANDOUT (CUSTOM CREDIT)/HANDOUT

This May, Asian American Pacific Islander heritage month was different for many members of our community, as our own reckoning with our standing in our country’s melting pot was laid bare. Globe columnist Shirley Leung highlighted a survey in which 42 percent of Americans could not name a single prominent Asian-American, despite household names like Tiger Woods, Lucy Liu, Vera Wang, Michelle Kwan, and Vice-President Kamala Harris. Though we are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, we are somehow invisible in our own country. Former New England Patriot and NFL assistant coach Eugene Chung was appallingly told during an interview for a head coaching job that, “You’re not the right minority we’re looking for,” and, “you’re not really a minority.”

Anti-Asian hate crimes are up more than 164 percent from last year in 16 major cities. In New York City, a 65-year-old Filipino woman was kicked and stomped upon in Times Square while security guards nearby did nothing, and a 48-year-old Chinese immigrant had his finger bitten off. In San Francisco, an 84-year-old man from Thailand was beaten and killed by a teenager.

In Rhode Island, while we’ve been spared such violence to date, many of us have been subjected to racial slurs. While leaving a recent event in a Rhode Island suburb, a group of young adults yelled, “Ching Chong!” at me.

These and many other heinous crimes were unprovoked. Attackers ranted at their victims, telling them to “go back to where you came from.” Yet, these incidents didn’t spark national outrage – in fact, more than one-third of white Americans admitted to not even knowing about an increase in violence against our community. For centuries, Asian Americans have been seen as “others” in their own country, with roots dating back to the 1854 California Supreme Court Case of People vs. Hall that ruled that the Chinese were an inferior race, and thus not allowed to testify in court. A few decades later, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned immigration of Chinese laborers. Chinese immigrants already in this country were required to carry special documentation; being without it was punishable by hard labor and deportation, with bail an option only if a “credible white witness” vouched for them.

Even those of us who were born here are seen as people who don’t belong. An editorial cartoon published in the New York Daily News in late May showed Andrew Yang, the first major Asian American candidate for Mayor of New York City, emerging from a Times Square subway station with a shop-owner stating, “The tourists are back.” Andrew was born in Schenectady, New York, moved to NYC 25 years ago. He lives in Hell’s Kitchen, literally blocks away from that Times Square subway station.

In Rhode Island, Asian Americans are quite invisible in the upper echelons of the business sector. A quick look at the state’s largest corporations revealed no C-Suite members of Chinese descent and only one person of Indian heritage. The for-profit corporate boards were no better. There is one person of Indian descent who sits on multiple boards, but other than that person Asian Americans are nowhere to be found. And even when boards make an effort to include Asian Americans, there seems to be an incorrect assumption that prominent Asian Americans in Rhode Island, like myself, are more interested in offering suggestions than serving.

Asian Americans in the US routinely run up against what’s known as the “Bamboo Ceiling.” A recent online survey commissioned by Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change, or LAAUNCH, found that more than 90 percent of Americans were most comfortable with an Asian American as their doctor, friend, or co-worker, but an overwhelming 85 percent said they were less comfortable with having one of us as their boss. In 2018, the Harvard Business Review highlighted how Asian Americans are the least likely group in our country to be promoted to management. Many companies don’t give attention to our community in diversity equity programs, especially when it comes to management positions. The result: Asian Americans, in Rhode Island and in general, fade into the background, invisible.

When a large group is functionally invisible, its story is also silenced. At a time when the appetite for racial inclusion is greater than ever, let us highlight and empower Asian Americans to leave not just quiet footprints, but make their full indelible mark on American society. Be that in the boardrooms of corporate America, in all levels of political leadership, and in the hearts and minds of everyday neighbors, it’s time for Asian Americans to be invisible no more.

Allan W. Fung is the former mayor of Cranston, R.I. He serves on the Board of Governors of the Asian American Unity Coalition, is an advisory board member of the International Leadership Foundation, and is a partner at Pannone, Lopes, Devereaux & O’Gara.


https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/06/04/metro/asian-americans-rhode-island-should-not-be-invisible-or-silent/?fbclid=IwAR1lUIqNLiN5xdsdNS5rVUg2EFx9BAkPiK1wGK2Im3e6X22yV_LtQq_QXOE





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