Asian upbringings stress the importance of intrapersonal strength. When something goes wrong, members of our community internalize the issue, not making much of a fuss. This isn’t a bad way to go about things. It makes people stronger and less likely to crack under pressure. It makes people harder workers. But, it’s also not always the best way.
Sometimes, problems arise through no fault of your own, and, in those cases, it’s fine to speak up — really, in those cases, it’s important to speak up.
Take former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen. He was fired in 2011 after six years as chief and 10 years in the police department. At the time, he was the only non-Asian department head in Medina and the only Chinese American police chief in Washington. During his tenure, he reduced crime in the city to a nearly nonexistent level, making many friends in the process. Despite his achievements, however, the city manager decided to fire him.
Now, many people would just take the firing and let it go, resolving to work harder at the next chance they get, but because Chen believed so strongly in what he did and had so much support from the community, he decided to file a wrongful termination lawsuit, saying that the city manager’s decision was based mostly on the fact that he is Chinese American.
The jury found that Chen did nothing wrong and awarded him $2 million in damages. After the trial, Chen said, “We are all human beings and we should be treated with dignity. No one human being is better than another…Chinese are very silent and subservient. I hope we will be continued to be valued, and I am proud that I have stood up to fight for myself.”
Internal strength is important, but it shouldn’t cover up the fact that, sometimes, bad things that happen to you are not your fault. Being a strong person should not have to compensate for being treated unfairly and being discriminated against. If you felt like someone has treated you badly, please, speak up. Don’t take it lying down. It’s just the right thing to do. (end)