Today is Chinese New Year, the most important holiday for Chinese across the globe. As my family celebrates this year’s Chinese New Year, I am saddened by how we, Chinese Americans, have been mistreated this past year.
We fought a very tough fight last year to protect a fundamental American principle – Equality for All. Many of us have never imagined ourselves to be at the front and center of the fight. We endured many mistreatment during the fight.
Medias would frame us and take things out of context to attack us, or even made up stories when there was NO story at all. We were treated very badly by many legislators in Olympia (all were Democrats). We could not get appointments with them. Out of our repeatedly requests, Senator Majority Leader, Andy Billig, met us. Yet, he spoke to us in a condescending manner through out the meeting. He even said that he did us a favor meeting us, because we were not from his district! – Really? Senator Billig, as a Senate Majority Leader, we are very sure you meet people out of your districts A LOT! Maybe we should file a Public Records Request to see who visited your office last year?? And of course, Crosscut attacked us and played us. The list goes on and on.
Then, just last week, Senator Patty Kuderer humiliated us. She used racist words “Chinese Fire Drill” at a committee meeting on January 17th. We filed a complaint with Secretary of the Senate on January 20th, and wanted Senator Kuderer to “issue an official apology to Chinese Americans”. Anyone with a sense of fairness would agree that it was a fair request and should be easy to fulfill, right? Not in the mind of Senator Kuderer! Senator Kuderer refused to apologize to Chinese Americans. Secretary of Senate backed her up.
Senator Kuderer offered a light touch, “a lesson learned” statement on 1/20 at a committee meeting, not a real apology, and was not addressed to Chinese Americans. Here is her statement “I actually want to apologize for an insensitive remark I made in committee last week.. (a colleague) had graciously and humbly pointed out to me, and it was quite a teachable moment… we are never too old to learn something new. I will certainly endeavor to be more mindful. In all the confusion that was happening on Friday – calling of witnesses – it was an attempt to be light hearted but sometimes, we don’t say things the way we really intend them to be.”
No, Senator Kuderer, this is not about you learned a lesson, this is about you insulted and offended us, and you owe us a sincere apology!
Imagining if Senator Kuderer offended other minority groups this way, will she be able to get off the hook so easily? No! Not only Senator Kuderer’s choice of words were racism, the entire handling of our complaint was racism.
Senator Mona Das obviously had similar experience. She made below comment regarding the Democrat caucus on June 27, 2019:
After they close that door, that’s when it gets real. That’s when my 28 colleagues got real. And that’s when I heard hate…that’s when I heard misogyny, and racism, and sexism from people you would not expect. That’s the type of light I want to shine. Now, when there are eight people of color in the Senate Democratic caucus, it was coded language instead – ‘those people.’ They would say things that were coded
Although the Senate investigation claimed “no evidence of racist or sexist remarks”, Seattle Time’s coverage on the investigation told us more than what the investigation reported.
Rather, Das said she meant to convey that a handful of fellow Democrats, whom she did not name, “were purportedly dismissive and disrespectful when members of color raised concerns that specific legislation could disproportionately impact communities of color.”
Our experiences with many Democrat legislators echo what Senator Das, an Indian American, described – her fellow Democrats were dismissive, disrespectful towards us, Chinese Americans.
Senator Das said, during a KUOW interview on July 18th, 2019, that “she doesn’t regret her comments because it’s prompting a broader discussion of race and equity in the Washington state Legislature.”
The fact that Senator Kuderer has yet understood that her racist words insulted, offended our community, and Senate Democrat Caucus is turning a blind eye on this entire issue, suggests that Senate Democrat Caucus has yet be able to address the racism within it.
2020 will be a year that we continue fighting for the Equal Treatment under the Law. No one should endure racism. On the first day of 2020 Chinese New Year, we declare that we will fight for the respect and dignity of Chinese Americans in Washington State.