A New Jersey congressman tweeted poignantly about racism and fatherhood Saturday after his 5-year-old son was called a “Chinese boy” by an older child.
Rep. Andy Kim, a Korean American, tweeted about his son’s experience amid a nationwide rash of bias crimes against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was sad because my son shared what was likely his first ever experience of discrimination,” the Democrat wrote.
“For me it wasn’t first time I heard bias about him. People told me he has cute slanty Chinese eyes or it’s great we teach him English as primary lang[uage] as if our default is foreigner[sic].”
In the thread, Kim said the incident brought back memories of racism he himself endured as a youngster.
“When someone joked about whether he was born knowing Kung Fu, it reminded me of the Jackie Chan taunts I got that started ‘innocent’ but then turned dangerous as I got older and found myself attacked by drunk men seeking to prove their strength by beating up ‘Jackie Chan,’” the South Jersey representative tweeted.
“I was sad because I know this won’t be his last time facing racism,” Kim wrote.
“Other times will likely be worse and potentially violent. As a Congressman, I sadly know there is no law I can pass that will protect him fully.”
The congressman asked his mother for advice, even though his parents never discussed racism with him because the topic was too painful to broach, Kim said.
When Kim asked his mother what he should say to his son, she suggested a message of support.
“’You are very special. Keep being yourself. You are never alone. Whatever problems come, let us know and we will go through together,’” Kim said, quoting his mother’s guidance.
The thread concluded with Kim telling his followers he decided to have the tough discussion with his boy.
“I’m going to get ready to have that talk with my son. I’m a bit nervous. He’s such a sweet boy and I don’t know how he will take it,” Kim tweeted.
“He’s 5 so I won’t go into everything but I think it’s good to get conversation started as they grow up fast. I’ll let you know how it goes.”