By Cheol Kang
For Northwest Asian Weekly
My family and I emigrated from Korea a little over four decades ago. I spent my childhood growing up in the eastside of Tacoma, always being the only “Asian kid” at school and in the neighborhood. I faced many challenges of bullying and name calling because of my race. A generation later, I truly believe that as a society, we have evolved beyond the challenges I faced as a child. We’ve grown more culturally competent and learned to respect one another based upon the content of our character, and not judge others by the color of our skin.
However, since the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a noticeable national increase of racially biased speech and even hate fueled actions by close-minded individuals who want to place blame on people of Asian descent for the global pandemic.
Racist speech, crude comments, and racially motivated microaggressions have no place in our society, let alone our community. Mayor Jennifer Gregerson and the Mukilteo City Council affirmed that the City of Mukilteo is a “safe, welcoming, and diverse community for everyone.”
Almost 20% of our population are of Asian descent.
While we have not had any specific racially motivated crimes reported, that does not mean that they aren’t occurring. Any hate crime based on a person’s race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is a crime committed against that entire group. Don’t hesitate to report hate crimes. Encourage those who experience or witness acts of hate to make a report. Share safety tips with friends and family. For more information, please visit stopaapihate.org.
Words matter. What may be perceived as a joke by one person is the fuel to ignite the racially motivated hate for another to do harm. It is everyone’s responsibility to let others know when words are culturally insensitive or hurtful. These are the tough conversations that we need to continue having to break the perpetual cycle of bias, discrimination, and racism that passes down from generation to generation.
We all have a responsibility in this process to eradicate racism and bias, much like we all have a part to eradicate COVID-19. We are an amazing community and I truly believe we will move forward safely and prosper together. I thank you for your support and commitment to stay Mukilteo strong!
Cheol Kang is Police Chief at Mukilteo Police Department.