Our collective inability to grapple with race and identity could not be more clear than it’s been this week, when President Joe Biden signed an anti-Asian hate crime bill while Vice President Kamala Harris was weirdly snubbed as not Asian American enough, all while Congress failed to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act before the one year anniversary of his murder.
It’s the muddy, predictable mess that results as people struggle to come to terms with the fact that the world—and the country—is more nuanced than Black, white, and shades of grey.
In the conventional American usage, Kamala Harris and myself are both Asian American, since our families came from the continent of Asia—which is presently home to nearly 60% of the world’s population. But according to a recent poll by Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change, 42 percent of Americans “didn’t know” a single prominent Asian American. The next most popular answers were Jackie Chan, at 11 percent, and Bruce Lee, who died in 1973, at nine percent. The remaining 38 percent said they don’t see color at all.