Two victories this week for Asian Americans
This week, we are pleased to report that two of our past editorial topics have been resolved. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has renamed its Yellow Line to Gold Line. Also, Chinese immigrant Qing Hong Wu has been pardoned by New York’s Gov. David Paterson.
To recap, the issue that Asian Americans in the Atlanta area had with the Yellow Line designation had to do with the fact that the train’s line ran to Doraville, an area with a rich Asian American community.
Community members were offended by the designation because yellow has historically been used as a derogatory term for Asians — “Yellow Terror” or “Yellow Peril” — out of fear of the mass immigration of Asians, which was viewed as a threat to white Americans’ standard of living.
Qing Hong Wu, 29, legally immigrated to the United States with his family as a 5-year-old. He got into trouble as a youth and was charged with robbery when he was a teenager. Before he served his 3 years in juvenile reformatory, he vowed to turn his life around. He worked hard to support his mother financially and eventually became the vice president for Internet technology at a national company. In 2007, Wu applied for citizenship and fully disclosed his record. He was detained and faced the possibility of deportation to China. There was an outpouring of support for Wu, whose story made national news.
Now, there are many times in our lives when we face moral dilemmas that involve issues of ethnicity and race, and we are tempted to speak up. But perhaps we decide to let it go and stay quiet, thinking it’s better to not rock the boat, or thinking that the fight would be too embarrassing and not worth it.
However, look at the two examples above. Sure, there are many people out there who have voiced their displeasure over the perceived “oversensitivity” of Asian Americans over the Yellow Line. But if people didn’t speak up, the name of a train line could have ended up being one big joke that continually offends some Asians and evokes bad memories for others. If people didn’t speak up, Qing Hong Wu might have been deported back to a country he hadn’t seen since he was 5, whose language he wasn’t fluent in.
Today, Asian Americans are much more outspoken than what the quiet minority stereotype would lead some others to believe. We are accomplishing worthwhile tasks in our government and in our communities.
We should share the good news about MARTA and Wu with our friends and children to encourage them to speak up more. It is important to help others to take a stand on an issue they feel is important. ♦