Jason Fong, a high school student in California, has been an American citizen all his life. His grandfather emigrated from China to Cuba and then to New York City in the 1940s. His mother is from Korea.
That's his Asian-American story. And it's the kind of not-so-easy to summarize story that's often erased from political discussions. That's especially the case when politicians like Donald Trump and Jeb Bush use the pejorative term “anchor babies" — usually implying that non-citizens come to the U.S. to give birth in order to take advantage of public benefits in the country.
That's why 15-year-old Fong, after hearing Jeb Bush's comments about the "problems" stemming from "Asian people coming into our country" (back when Bush was a presidential candidate), decided to help illuminate what "our country" really looks like for Asian-Americans.
He started the viral hashtag #MyAsianAmericanStory as a way for Asian-Americans to contribute the stories and histories that mainstream politicians too often ignore.
“I hope that people can look at this tag and know that Asians and Asian Americans are part of the American narrative," Fong told the Los Angeles Times.
Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States. The U.S. has a long history of anti-Asian immigration policies, and despite the fact that our families and communities are a part of the American fabric, misconceptions about Asian-Americans still persist.
Bush's comments — and the troubling mindset they represent — make elevating stories of Asian-American immigrants and their descendants all the more important.
Here are some of the most thought-provoking tweets that tell #MyAsianAmericanStory:
Asian-Americans have been in the U.S. for a looong time...
...and so has discrimination.
Did you know that the first immigration restriction in America targeted Asian immigrants? The Page Law of 1875 attempted to stop Asian immigration based on the idea that Asians were "undesirable" and that Asian women were prostitutes. Other anti-immigration laws were targeted at Asians, too, including the Chinese Exclusion Act that followed in later years.
In 1942, more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were rounded up and placed in camps. Japanese internment was a horrifying and humiliating experience for the families who were forcibly removed from their communities. It also created long-lasting economic consequences for the people who lost their jobs, businesses, and livelihoods while in the camps.
Even though our families and communities have been a part of this country for forever, the stereotypes just don't seem to quit.
No matter how well we speak English, Asian-Americans often face the challenge of being seen as Other — never completely part of American culture.
But understanding our stories give us strength...
Our personal histories are deeply tied to our political histories. And our political histories demonstrate how resilient our communities can be.
...and sharing them makes us grow stronger.
It's not every day that we see our real stories reflected in the media. Thank you, Jason Fong, for the opportunity to share our unique histories with each other and with the world.
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