Dear Chan Kim Hock,

My name is Michelle Liu, my Chinese name is 刘程程. I watched the video of you as a child giving a clear speech in English about 100 years ago*. I think it was brave of you to address the American’s stereotypes about Chinese and try to correct them with facts and good humor. Of course not all Chinese boys ran laundries or were watchmen! Of course they had big dreams, loved cake and candy, and didn’t eat rats or mice! In your speech, you tried to make things better.

Now, almost a century later, I’m writing to tell you about America today. In December of 2019, a new virus called the Coronavirus was found in Wuhan, China. In just a few months, it spread out to the whole world causing a global pandemic. Currently, people spend their days isolated at home with limited contact to anyone outside of their family members. Unfortunately, from the outset of the pandemic, Asian hate incidents and crimes have surged in the United States. About seventy percent of victims are Asian seniors, women and girls. The attackers have condemned Asian Americans, ignorantly claiming that Asian Americans brought the Coronavirus to the United States.

I think Asian American hate incidents and crimes are committed because people don’t know enough about Asian American history, even though Asian Americans have been a vital part of building America since the California Gold Rush, almost 200 years ago. The current school curriculums lack stories and details about Asian American history. It is extremely important for the younger generation to learn about Asian Americans and how so many hidden figures have contributed to America’s success. Because of this, I created a petition** to add more Asian American history in my school’s Social Studies curriculum. As of April 25th, 2021, I have over 1,425 signatures of people wanting this positive change! The Asian American has been the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States for the last twenty years. Former President George W. Bush recently stated that “immigrants are America’s greatest strength.” *** It is crucial for future generations to recognize how Asian Americans, together with other communities, contribute to America.

But, Chan Kim Hock, your dream is coming true! Asian Americans today are politicians, veterans, business men and women, Hollywood actors and actresses, athletes, authors, artists, musicians, journalists, scientists and more. We have always played, and will continue to play, an important part in American history and society. One of my favorite Asian American figures is children’s author, Grace Lin. During the pandemic, she supported her young readers by creating drawing tutorials, read alouds of her books, a book club, and a podcast with other children book authors. Her podcast, Kids Ask Authors, has helped me to understand the creative writing process better. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is one of her most popular works. With beautiful paintings and stories inspired by Chinese folktales, it won the Newbery Medal in 2010. Grace Lin is an inspirational Asian American writer and illustrator for the younger generation to look up to.

I hope you continued to persevere throughout your life even when it was hard. The fact that you stood up for Asian Americans in your speech is something that future generations now admire, including myself. Thank you for standing up for what you believed was right. You have inspired me to be brave and speak out, too. Everyone’s voices deserve to be heard.

~Michelle
4/25/21

* Video: Introducing Chan Kim Hock 陈金福
University of South Carolina, university libraries. Fox Movietone News Story 5-769.
https://digital.tcl.sc.edu/digital/collection/MVTN/id/7092/rec/2
Chinese subtitles: https://youtu.be/Yf2MQmw1q9U
** “Add Asian-American History in Fairfax County Public Schools K-12 Curriculum” Petition: https://www.change.org/p/dr-brabrand-add-asian-american-history-in-fairfax-county-public-schools-k-12-curriculum
*** Bush, George W. “Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants”. Crown Publishing Group. April 20, 2021.

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3 thoughts on “Dear Chan Kim Hock……”
  1. Michelle,

    100 years ago, Chan Kim Hock gave an English speech in front of a camera trying to break the stereotypes on Chinese people. 100 years later, you spoke in-person to the FCPS School Board to advocate to add more AAPI history in education to break the perpetual foreigner stereotype, the model minority myth, and invisibility. You’re not alone. Your parents stand by you. Many families stand by your family. Let’s take actions today to avoid history repeats itself again and again.

    Xi

  2. Michelle, Great that you started the petition. I am aware that FCPS is indeed following up on this. Also, have your read a poem called Laundry Song “洗衣歌” by Wen Yiduo 闻一多? That poem is very relevant to Chan Kim Hock’s speech you may want to check up.

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