HOUSTON - The death of George Floyd sparked a global conversation about racial injustice across all minority communities.
In 2020, research shows anti-Asian hate crimes spiked more than 150% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Texas State Representative Gene Wu is one of the most prominent and outspoken Asian-American leaders in Houston.
FOX 26's Natalie Hee sat down with him over lunch at one of his favorite restaurants in Chinatown to talk about the impacts the Coronavirus pandemic had on the Asian community, his upbringing and the profound effect George Floyd’s death had on it all.
"People didn’t discuss racism. In the 1980s, early 90s, nobody talked about it. So, when other kids ‘ching-chonged’ me and they made slant-eyes face at me, they called me flat face or any number of names, I didn’t understand what that was. It wasn’t until I was older and looked back on those experiences and was like oh yeah, that’s pretty damn racist," Wu said.
"I was really ashamed of being Asian for a long time. I grew up hating myself. Like really hating myself. I hated being Asian. And I hated who I was. I hated my family. I hated just everything because the people around me made it clear that everything I was, was unacceptable to them. It took me a long time to overcome that. It took me a long time to be proud of who I was, proud of who I am and proud of my culture. I’m only one of four of 180 state officials that are Asian," Wu continued.
"I think the George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protest had actually a really profound shift for the Asian community. In the Asian community, there tends to be an attitude of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. We’re just going to pretend everything is fine because that’s how Asian-Americans have dealt with racism against our own community. Even my parents tell me, 'Hey just keep your mouth shut, don’t worry about it. Just work hard and be successful. Don’t let it get to you. The Asian community was starting to see and really could not ignore the racism and the threats posed by the pandemic against the community," Wu said.
Wu emphasized the importance of putting Asian-Americans in leadership roles where the general public can see that Asian-Americans are Americans.
"The other thing that I've been pushing really hard for is for the Asian American community to join the fight against white supremacy. Against racism, against bigotry. Not just against us, but against all communities. The hate is not any different. Just the names of the victims are different. But it’s the same hate, the same type of mentality that generates that hate. We can either fight it together or we can be left on the island alone," Wu said.