Tai, Portland, Ore.
"My family on both sides instilled in me a strong sense of identity from a young age, as they knew I would encounter discrimination in my life. We left Japan when I was 3 and my grandparents frequently sent our family care packages. Tons of Japanese VHS tapes, Pokemon cards, snacks, clothing, etc. which I thoroughly enjoyed and would share with my cousins and friends. This combined with the lessons, energy, pride, and pain of also being a Black man in America were my foundation. There wasn't many Black or Asian students in my elementary school and I have distinct memories of my grandmother talking to my class about Black history, reading books to us and talking to us about Africa. I also have distinct memories of my mother talking to my classes about Japanese culture, and bringing in memorabilia and food too."
"I attribute my ability to shrug off racism when I was younger to my family instilling these values in me. However, I hate seeing people being taken advantage of and as I entered college I became more vocal with addressing racist behavior. One of the most common examples I've seen have been with individuals whom speak English as a second/third/etc. language. Seeing my mother struggle to learn and speak the language was a pain point for me and was an early peek into a type of racism that immigrants experience in America. Even if they're multilingual, which most Americans ironically fail to do."
"The majority of experiences I've had w/ racism around my Asian identity has been when people make an ignorant/racist remark about Asian people -- not knowing that I'm half-Japanese and can speak and write the language. I always follow up these instances with correcting them and addressing why it's not acceptable. It's exhausting at times but our racial identity is something always present and if I can protect and be a voice for marginalized communities by speaking up then I would gladly address these challenges."
"What do I want to stop?"
"The cycles of hatred and discriminationv that have plagued this country for centuries. The mass-murder of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crowe laws, Chinese Exclusion Act, putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WW II etc. It comes from a place of hatred, fear and insecurities. This same sentiment has drove us to apply labels and unable to provide health care and citizenship for America's undocumented population. This same sentiment has driven America's treatment of Black people. And this has driven the rise in hate crimes and attacks on Asian Americans."