6 years ago, I moved from a predominantly Cantonese/Han Chinese descent environment in Hong Kong to a middle class suburb in Michigan.
Anyone can imagine the drastic change. It was a rough time trying to fit in with my “FOB-ness” and half-broken English during a dramatic phase in 8th grade when everyone tried to be “popular” in school. In a town that is 75 percent white, 16percent Black, 5 percent Arab, and literally 2 percent AAPI, there were not many people I could relate to. Even with the 2 percent of Asian people, I just couldn’t fully relate to their Asian American experience as an immigrant at first. First year in the middle school, I noticed that the white sporty kids are the most sociable ones, so I tried to spike up my hair and act like white boys as well. In return, what I got was “tbh you’re weird for posting in Chinese on Facebook” from a white girl who called me her “best friend” the first few days of school. I learned what racism was, and what’s it’s like existing as a racial minority within a group of people for the first time.
Fast forward to high school and college and I knew better and tried to befriend like-minded people who understand class and race struggles. There was Athena, a Filipinx American I met in high school who unapologetically expresses herself through her artwork. Then, there were Jaire, Matt, Derek and my comrades on internet, who taught me about music cultures, Black and Indigenous liberation, global capitalism and imperialism crises through satires of memes and leftist twitter threads. There was Na’kia, Zainab, Ashley, Nisa and everyone in MiC last year who gave me an opportunity to grow in this space. Through these experiences, I recognized that I am at a special place of struggle and privilege as a light-skinned East Asian cis man and documented Hongkonger immigrant in the US. These experiences inspire me to passionately learn more about myself and others everyday, and use my voice when needed.
To resist is to exist. These systems and institutions of oppressions are working exactly how they were designed to. They aren’t broken. We need to break them. It is why narratives matter and why I continue to do what I love doing.
Lastly, I would like to thank our courageous and inspirational founders of MiC, Jerusaliem, Rima, and Kayla. We cannot wait to continue your legacies of uplifting Black student voices, fighting for the justice of Palestinian people and giving love to communities of color, for many years to come.