When my high school classmate Regina Lee* was 17, she gave a presentation in U.S. history class on the topic of why affirmative action enables “reverse racism” that punishes Asians for being academically overachieving.
I found this out recently after reconnecting with Regina since I became “extremely online” while under self-imposed lockdown due to the pandemic.
She was deeply embarrassed by her adolescent politics, but I quickly assured her that I was just as bad, if not worse. My teenage self was vehemently opposed to Tibet’s liberation, and refused to acknowledge Taiwan as a country. By the way, Regina is Taiwanese American, and my previously held belief that she and her brethren are enemies to China’s unification and ascension to power was why we were acquaintances, but never became better friends.
Better late than never. In these turbulent times finding a kindred spirit is a balm for the soul. As we caught up on each other’s lives, I was surprised to learn that Regina dropped out of college, and if she was surprised to hear about my decade of directionless career pivots, she didn’t show it. When we graduated from high school, we were cookie-cutter model students, ready to ace more classes in college and move closer to a cushy white-collar existence that would make our families proud. Instead of becoming a surgeon, I became a writer. And instead of becoming an aerospace engineer, she is still finding her way.
I Left The United States to Reclaim My Chinese Identity
The coronavirus pandemic exposed the sham of the ‘model minority’ myth
After we got past the small talk, the topic turned to the recent George Floyd protests, more specifically how our Han Chinese** diaspora community in the United States has responded to it. This was in early June. A week prior, Yale University junior Eileen Huang (no relation to me) wrote a searing open letter to our community, condemning widespread anti-Blackness amongst the first-generation immigrants and advocating for solidarity with…