In this conversation on race, I’m joined by Jeff Le, to talk about anti-Asian hate. He has been featured in Political magazine, The New York Times USA Today, and the Washington Post.
Jeff shares his personal experience with being a victim of anti-Asian hate and no one offering any help. “Last March we were completely overwhelmed with the lockdown with the COVID-19. But there was a second thing going on at the same time, not just from public health in pandemic issue, but also there was a real hate issue. January, February, when there was rhetoric about the Kung Flu- the China virus, there was some scapegoating.”
If you think about American history, and you look at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the country, there’s been a long-standing history of xenophobia and discrimination. Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans have been here since the 1850s.Building railroads going across the country to California, for example, Japanese Americans, really setting up shop in the Bay Area, for example, face significant discrimination. That is something that’s been around for quite some time. And if you fast forward if you look at American history there have been instances where, whenever there are issues in the world that affect Asia and the United States, there has been a direct moment of disdain, disagreement, and unfortunately acts of hate and violence that have happened. I was traveling for my last work trip before the pandemic really laid in. And I was walking through an airport. I needed to get to San Francisco, and a woman came up to me, spit on my face. And she told me to go back where I came from.”
“And as a proud Californian I wanted to tell her yes, I’m excited to go back to California, very much miss Mexican food. Unfortunately, she meant it in a more literal way. She meant, you know, based on what you Look, I know you’re not from here, go back to China. Essentially. I’m Vietnamese American. That’s a separate issue. But I was scapegoated, specifically for the virus, spit on in front of people in a public place that was federally regulated. Being spit on is something that’s really debasing ,demeaning, dehumanizing, but that’s not the issue. The issue is, and this is the conversations I know you’ve been leading. It’s about creating environments that allow for that to happen. And unfortunately, there were about a dozen people who saw what happened. And not a single one of them did anything.”
Key topics covered:
• The history of discrimination against Asians in the US
• The Chinese Exclusionary Act
• The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War Two.
• How his parents who are Vietnamese-Americans started a chicken farm in Georgia, build relationships with neighbors only to be accused of being responsible for COVID 19
• The relationship between the US relationship with China, anti-Asian hate, and blame for COVID 19
• Relationship between mental health and attacks against Asians
• Role of white supremacy in anti-Asian hate and physical attacks against Asians
• The fear that Asian Pacific Islanders are living with, particularly the elderly
• The murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit
• History of unity amongst People of Color
• Asian support of Black Lives Matter
• How he has been verbally harassed in his neighborhood
• The importance of being an active ally and not a silent bystander
If you like what you hear on this show, please go to RaceConvo.com and download more episodes. Please share the show with at least one or two other people. Help us get our message across about spreading love across the globe, and stopping hate. If you would like to bring me to your organization to facilitate a panel or conversation on race or consult with you on inclusive leadership, please contact me at Simmalieberman.com. You can hit me up on Twitter, @theinclusionist or Instagram @simma.lieberman, or find me on LinkedIn.
Jeff Le Bio
Jeff Le has had a career at the highest levels of public policy and politics at the state, federal and international levels. A recognized thought leader in political advocacy and representation, his analysis and opinion-writing has been featured in POLITICO Magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, FOX News, The Hill, Washingtonian, Roll Call, Bustle, Forbes, and local and regional newspapers in 30 states. During the height of the #StopAsianHate movement, Jeff penned an opinion piece that received national attention in POLITICO Magazine called I Thought I Knew How to Succeed as an Asian in U.S. Politics. Boy, Was I Wrong. that highlighted his experiences in workplace discrimination in politics and racism throughout his life.
Jeff is now an executive leader in technology where he is Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs for Rhino, a fintech startup working to give renters everywhere greater financial freedom through affordable insurance options. Prior to joining Rhino, Jeff was U.S. State and Local Public Policy Lead for VMware, a digital technology and infrastructure company, and managed the company’s gubernatorial, state, county, and local relationships across all 50 states and Canada. Jeff focused on emerging technology policy, including privacy, 5G, broadband, cyber, sustainability, workforce development, diversity and inclusion, education, and IT modernization.