Social-Justice

Jason Fong is my HERO!

How an Asian-American HS Student Sparked a Conversation About Race

Let me just say… Jason Fong is my HERO!

This past Monday, Republican presidential candidate and current Florida governor Jeb Bush used the term “anchor babies” during an interview to refer to 1st generation American born babies of Asian immigrants. That Monday night, a 15-year-old student from Redondo Beach California had created a response: #MyAsianAmericanStory on Twitter. This hashtag immediately started a dialog on the experiences of being Asian in America.

“Anchor baby” is an offensive term that some Republican candidates are using to refer to children whose parents who come to the United States without a visa to give birth with the sole intent of gaining citizenship for their children and thus making it easier to gain citizenship for themselves. This term in addition to terms like “illegals” or “aliens” are offensive because they are dehumanizing and racist in that they are only applied to immigrants of color. (Have you ever heard of Irish-American or Italian-American immigrants described this way?)

I seriously doubt the “anchor baby epidemic” is a critical challenge facing real immigration reform. Even so, the fact that Republican candidates like Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are talking about this as an issue related solely to immigrants from non-European countries is highly problematic at best, as the Washington Post reports many Eastern Europeans also come to the U.S. to have babies. (File this under .)

Even though Trump has used the term in the past (why am I not surprised?), the whole kerfuffle started when Bush tried to clarify his use of the term. As Asian American culture blog AngryAsianMan.com summed it up:

[Bush] clarified further, saying that he used the term “anchor babies” specifically to refer to fraud in a “specific targeted kind of case” involving mothers who travel to the U.S. only to win citizenship for their unborn children.

“Frankly, it’s more Asian people.”

Got that, folks? In case you were concerned that Jeb Bush was referring to Latinos when talking about “anchor babies” taking advantage of birthright citizenship, don’t worry — he was just talking about Asians.

So… as long as you’re not attacking Latinos… it’s OK to make racist, ignorant, demeaning comments about babies?… (?!?!?!)

Jason Fong to the rescue!

That evening, Redondo Union High School student Jason Fong posted a series of tweets using the hashtag #MyAsianAmericanStory. It was trending in Los Angeles the following morning, and has since become a space for Asian Americans to tell their own stories.

Check out some of the Tweets that have come out in response:

https://twitter.com/fleukim/status/637451076309008384

https://twitter.com/lmcheifetz/status/636221389909848064

https://twitter.com/multiasianfams/status/637592357760688128

https://twitter.com/doctor_lam/status/637674588575436800

Even comedian Kristina Wong and my district’s own California Assemblymember David Chiu got into the conversation:

Jason Fong, no ordinary high school student

The story got so big, the Los Angeles Times recently did a piece about Fong. It turns out, Fong isn’t just interested in speaking out about the Asian-American experience, he’s also a big supporter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. (Seriously… can he run for president already!!!).

The article states:

Fong, who spent the last year following the #BlackLivesMatter tag on Twitter, said he was wary of any attempts to create divisions between different minorities. He said he would be happy to see other minority communities using similar hashtags to tell their stories.

“I’m not part of the black community, but by following the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, I learned a lot,”

As it turns out, Jason Fong is a big supporter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and writes about these and other topics on his blog (!) Recent topics include: police brutality, racism in our nations colleges, and affirmative action. (Jason Fong for PRESIDENT!)

(Check out more of his posts here.)

In the same LA Times article Jason states:

“I hope that people can look at this tag, and know that Asians and Asian Americans are part of the American narrative,” he said.

“Our opinions and our stories matter just as much as those who immigrated less recently.”

Jason Fong is evidence that there are many young people who have a lot to contribute on the conversation of race if we are willing to listen to what they have to say. He is also a powerful example that it is stereotypical to think all Asians are “silent”, “passive” or unaffected by racial inequality in our country. Using his blog and hashtag he has provided a platform for Asian Americans to buck the “model minority” myth and share their story. It is a story, that I for one, am eager to hear.

What are your thoughts about all this? Does any of this make sense to you? Write your comments below.

Want to learn more about inspiring teens? Check out these related related reads:

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