Articles

Empowering the Korean-American Business Community

For the past 40 years, The Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (“KACCOC”) has played a vital role within the Korean business community. The role of the chambers has evolved to address the shift in demographics and strong contributions Koreans have made to the greater economy. No longer is the chamber limited to serving Korean “mom and pop” businesses in need of English assistance or help navigating though bookkeeping and licensing, but has evolved to serve as a bridge between Korean and mainstream businesses,  local governments, and those looking to harness the power of the Korean business community. The chamber develops programs and workshops to empower Korean-American business owners as as providing access for mainstream business wanting to do business with those in the Korean community.

We sat down with the president of the Korean American Chamber, Ho-El Park to learn more about the chamber and its upcoming Asian Business Expo. 

OCKorean: Tell us about yourself

Ho-El:  I am a 1.5 generation Korean American and the 40th president of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (“KACCOC”).  My day job is a lawyer mainly practicing business and real estate law. 

OCKorean: Tell us about the Korean American Chamber of Commerce Orange County (KACCOC)

Ho-El:  Established in 1978, KACCOC has been serving the Korean business community for  40 years.  KACCOC serves as the bridge between Korean and the mainstream community. Our mission is to promote the success and advancement of our members through networking, education, advocacy and collaboration with all of Orange County area community.

OCKorean: What are some of the major accomplishments KACCOC has achieved?

Ho-El:  Over the past 40 years, some of our accomplishments include building a Korean District Monument in Garden Grove, starting a Korean Cultural Festival in Orange County, partnering up with Hanyang University in Korea to launch a Global CEO program here in Orange County, and holding business education seminars by various professionals, civic servants, and elected officials.  In 2011,  KACCOC partnered up with Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce to start the Orange County Asian Business Expo (“OCABE”).

OCKorean: Why did the chamber begin the Orange County Asian Business Expo?

Ho-El: We recognize that Orange County has one of the largest Asian populations in the country and is growing exponentially as we speak.  It’s hard to find places where Asian businesses have not yet surfaced. The Asian businesses are no longer the small “mom and pop” stores but leaders and innovators in various industries, reshaping the mainstream economy, locally and internationally!  There is a rising interest in Asian businesses and the community’s continual desire to discover ways to learn more about them.  Through the expo, we not only want to celebrate the success of the Asian Businesses in Orange County but to provide an opportunity for the participants and attendees to explore other ethnic markets and increase market/customer base. 

OCKorean: Is there a theme for the Asian Business Expo this year?

Ho-El:  Yes, the theme is the “Taste and Beauty of Asia”.  It’s apparent that the Asian beauty products and food are exploding in the mainstream market.  We hope to attract more vendors and attendees to experience the increasing popularity of beauty and food products of Asian companies.

OCKorean: Who are some of the participants in this Asian Business Expo?

Ho-El:  So far, we’ve confirmed that major companies like Smart & Final, Nongshim, and Costco are attending.  We also have some franchises like 7 Leaves Café and Honeymee.  The list is growing and you can only find out if you attend!

OCKorean:  Who should attend this year’s expo?

Ho-El: Everyone! However, this event would be ideal and beneficial to those who want to expose their products to the OC mainstream but do not have much funds or network to do so.  It would be a great way to introduce their products and perhaps find other B2B connections to launch and spread them throughout the mainstream end-buyers.

OCKorean:  Is there a cost to attend?

Ho-El: If you are just attending, it is free, but you have to register through theasianbusinessexpo.com.  There will be free give away items and items for purchase on the spot.  If you are a vendor, you can purchase a booth, advertise via the LED screen and/or the program booklet.

OCKorean:  What makes this expo unique compared to other expos?

Ho-El:  This expo is a true collaboration. We have partnered with nearly every Asian American business organizations, such as the Vietnamese American Chambers, Friends of Thailand, China/US Business Association, and Hong Kong Association of California, just to name a few. We have also partnered  mainstream local chambers throughout Orange County such as Irvine Chambers, North Orange County Chambers and Garden Grove Chambers. This strong collaboration makes us the most unique business expo in not only Orange County, but throughout the state of California. 

OCKorean:  What benefits can be seen by participating in this Expo?

Ho-El:  This is a great opportunity for anyone to have direct access and contact with businesses that would otherwise be inaccessible and unapproachable.   There’s no doubt that “face-to-face” networking is better than communicating via the Internet and social media. Accordingly, the success of this event depends on the level of everyone’s “participation”.  I hope that all of the attendees would stop by each booth and take a good 10 minutes or so to learn about the participating businesses.  Attendees should also mingle and get to know each other better, including our VIPs (local community leaders, elected officials, etc.)

OCKorean:  How can one participate or learn more about the Asian Business Expo?

Ho-El:  Go to TheAsianBusinessExpo.com or kaccoc.org.

The Asian Business Expo – Doing business in Asia,

The Asian Business Expo – doing business in Korea. The Asian Business Expo – doing business in China.The Asian Business Expo – doing business in Vietnam. The Asian Business Expo – doing business in orange county, how to do business in korea, how to do business in Asia, how to meet asian business people, how to meet asian businesses, promote my business in Asia. promote my business in Korean. Asian business investment, investing in Korea. Korean businesses. 

Dave Min Listens To High School Students Voice Their Concern For The Future

Irvine, CA: On Saturday, nearly 30 high school students from the Korean American Young Leaders (KAYL) group had the opportunity to meet with guest speaker, UCI Law professor Dave Min, candidate for United States Congress (CA-45). Professor Min spoke to the group, ranging from 9th to 12th grades, about civic engagement and shared his journey on how he became a law professor and why he decided to run for Congress. Min reminded the students, “Because we have no elected Korean officials in the U.S. government, we are not able to express our opinions on important matters such as the situation in North Korea or Immigration.”  

The students had the opportunity to ask Min questions during a Q&A session. The students expressed some of their concerns with the candidate, which included the lack of immigration opportunities, the increase of gun violence and high taxes. The students were concerned that their generation would have to carry the burden of high taxes. Min agreed with their concerns and said he believes the people in this district are already paying a lot in taxes and wants to ensure that policies are fiscally sound so that taxpayers are not further burdened.

Min encouraged the students to be proud of their Korean-American heritage and to take advantages of opportunities the United States has to offer by becoming strong leaders. Soo Bin Cho, 12th grade student from University High School said “He seems like a genuine person who cares about the people and I hope to have the chance to work as an Intern on his campaign.”  Christian Shin, a 10th grade student from Northwood High School said “It will be great to finally have a Korean-American Congressman represent us in Washington D.C. I would be very proud to have Dave Min as our Congressperson.”

The next general meeting for KAYL will be on Saturday, November 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm. For more information about how to join KAYL, visit KoreanAmericanCenter.org or KAYL.org.

Korean American Young Leaders (KAYL)

Click here for official KAYL website

한국어

NOW ACCEPTING NEW MEMBERS FOR THE 2019-2020 ACADEMIC YEAR

For more information on how to join KAYL, please visit us at Kayl.org

Korean American Young Leaders (KAYL) is a program of the Korean American Center for high school students who aspire to enrich and empower their community with their time and talents.  KAYL provides a unique opportunity for tomorrow’s Korean-American leaders by empowering students of all socio-economic backgrounds through leadership development, community service events, and career exploration. What makes KAYL unique is it is 100% student led, with adults only serving in an advisory capacity – and its focus on social justice and empowering the Korean diaspora. 

Through KAYL students have the opportunity to take active leadership positions they might not otherwise have access to at school, while providing our youth insight into the world at large, while engaging students in a critical reflection of issues affecting our local community. Students will acquire a variety of leadership skills and team building techniques, such as presentation skills, meeting skills, and project planning. Through meaningful service projects, students will bring positive change to our community. 

Last year, KAYL received a lot of mainstream coverage, such as the LA Times, for their advocacy work in gathering petitions to add Asian American Studies to the curriculum within IUSD. This year, the students will build upon their success, pushing for a wider adoption of Asian American Studies. Furthermore, we hope to expand our horizons to more service projects. Here is a list of just some of the things we plan on doing in this 2019 to 2020 season: 

 

Beautification

  • This project would be a monthly opportunity for you to help beautify the office building and exterior. It would consist of tasks such as trimming and maintaining the shrubbery outside the KAC Office, and other gardening-esque work. 

Korean Class Assistant

  • Alongside with KAYL, KAC is also a designated 세종학당 (King Sejong Institute). Many Korean Language classes are taught there, from fundamentals & 한글 to higher levels of Korean. We are looking for people who would be interested in being an assistant for these classes. The job would consist of helping students with their pronunciation and reading. FLUENCY IN KOREAN REQUIRED!

Hangul Day

  • The California State Legislature has unanimously voted that October 9th is now and forever, 한글날 (Hangul Day). In the resolution, they named KAC and the King Sejong Institute  as one reason for the resolution. KAC is having an event on October 5th for the occasion and is looking for volunteers. 

Korean Class Student

  • As a KAYL member, you are possibly eligible to have the Korean class fees waived. As a student, you do not get service hours for learning Korean, however it is a good way to connect more with your culture. 

Media Team Editor

  • This consists of making and editing photos and other forms of media for the various events that KAC does. In addition, this can also consist of website design/editing for KAC. The hours for this job would be after school and/or work from home. Please contact Jini for more information. 
  • If you are a fan of 사극 (Korean historical dramas), you may be interested in being an editor for KAC’s blog, koreanhistoricaldramas.com. 

Monthly Food Bank

  • KCS is KAC’s parent organization, with offices in Buena Park. KCS has a monthly food bank in order to feed the elderly Korean community, as well as others in Buena Park. This is on the first Friday of every month, at 4PM. If you are interested in the monthly food bank, you would have to be at the office at approximately 3 PM. Rides are being considered as a possibility for KAYL members in the South OC area. 

2020 Census

  • The 2020 Census is upon us. KAC wants to do census outreach work as the census is very important to the Korean American, and other communities. We want to spread awareness on the importance of the census, how it can positively impact the community, and its necessity. While there is nothing concrete on how this will go about yet, if you are passionate about civic engagement, you may be interested in working on this.

Campaigning

  • If you are interested in the political process, you may be interested in working on some political campaigns for the upcoming 2020 election. Korean American Dave Min is running for the State Senate. He will be going up against other candidates for the primaries in March, and if he is one of the top two, he will move onto the general election in November 2020. Also, the director of KAC, Tammy Kim, is running for Irvine City Council in the 2020 general election. If working on these campaigns would be interesting to you, please consider it. 

 

Korean American Grassroots Conference (KAGC)

  • REGIONAL: The Korean American Grassroots Conference hosts regional seminars across the nation to develop and implement civic education and voter registration programs as well as to better coordinate the Korean American community’s advocacy on the national level. This occurs in April and is a great opportunity to learn more about civic engagement and how you can advocate for issues dear to you. 
  • NATIONAL: After the regional conference, the National Conference is held in Washington, DC around July.  Over three days of the National Conference, community members discuss policy priorities, explore the Korean American identity through history education, and partake in a massive Action Day to directly meet with and engage members of Congress who represent each and every attendee.

 

API Youth Summit

KAC is considering a new project for the January Time Frame. We would like to work with other Asian Pacific Islander Orgs in order to have a youth summit about civic engagement, leadership, and identity in an API context. We are aiming for a January time slot, and are looking for possible work in regards to outreach to organizations.

 

KAYL Executive Board Info

If you would like to become part of the KAYL executive board, please contact Christian Shin at christian.shin@gmail.com and Jini Shim at jini@koreanamericancenter.org for more information. We are looking for creative and forward thinking leaders to move our group into the future.

OBJECTIVES:

  • Provide our Korean-American youth with the opportunity to take active leadership positions they might not otherwise have access to at school.
  • Give our youth insight into the world at large, while engaging students in a critical reflection of issues affecting our local community.
  • Acquire a variety of leadership skills and team building techniques, such as presentation skills, meeting skills, and project planning.
  • Provide transformational career exploration through a vast network of mentors and advisors who are established leaders in their respective fields.
  • Inspire students to bring positive change to our community through a variety of meaningful service projects.
  • Participation in KAYL will go toward the Presidential Volunteer Service Award

Streetwear Brand That Celebrates Korean Culture and Heritage

Korean American Center of Orange County had the opportunity to speak with KORELIMITED founder Matthew Kim about his company and vision for the brand. While KORELIMITED (also known as KORE, which stands for KEEPIN OUR ROOTS ETERNAL) has been in the streetwear apparel industry for four years, it has a rapidly growing following. With support from fans all over the world, as well as celebrities from Korea and Hollywood, this is what Matthew shared with us:

OCKorean: For those who might not be familiar with KORELIMITED, can you give a brief introduction of the brand?

Matthew: KORE is a streetwear brand that celebrates Korean culture and lifestyle. We produce apparel that incorporate various aspects of Korean culture – like history, language, artists, etc. – into the designs.

 

KORELIMITED’s most recent collaboration with Korean street brand, IAMNOTAHUMANBEING

OCKorean: When did KORE start? And how did you come about building this brand?

Matthew: We launched KORE in the middle of 2013 to be exact and have been blessed to continuously grow every year. I began KORE because as a father I wanted to provide something for my children and their generation about their heritage and roots. Growing up, I have always been closely connected to my Korean heritage, but I see that kids from today’s generation are becoming more oblivious of their cultural background and history. So I wanted to create something that would be educational but also relevant to their taste and desire.

OCKorean: Is there a reason for teaching about Korean roots and culture through Korean fashion and streetwear, rather than other media like art or video?

 

Matthew with Tiger JK (left) and Bizzy (right)

Matthew: Doing art, videos, or these types of media to celebrate Korean culture would’ve been cool, but I think there is something deeper about being willing to wear Korean clothing. Somebody could watch a video on Korean culture and be a supporter. But if you’re willing to pay money and physically wear the designs about Korean culture and roots, I think it shows a different level of appreciation and proudness for the culture. My goal is to make Korean culture cool and Korean fashion unique so that everybody would be excited to wear our brand. I want the brand to be a dope brand that isn’t solely about teaching Korean history, rather incorporating those elements so that people would be willing to purchase without even knowing what the design stood for. They could gradually find out the significance of the designs by others telling them or by figuring it out by themselves.

OCKorean: You’ve received a lot of love and support from celebrities from Korea and the States. How did that come about?

Rapper SanE in KORELIMITED Olympic 1988 snapback hat

Matthew: I’ve been lucky with some personal connections, but a bigger piece of their support came from their genuine appreciation for our brand designs and what they stood for.

We have had a lot of people (like Hip Hop Artist Tiger JK, Rapper SanE, Singer Jong Kook Kim, Actress Arden Cho, Guitarist Jinjoo from DNCE, the dancers from 1 Million Dance Studio, and many more) reach out to us and express that they love our clothing and what we’re doing as a brand. Each season, we’re blessed with gaining more exposure and love from more celebrities, artists, and talents. 

OCKorean: From the designs that you’ve produced so far, which would you say stands out to you the most?

1Million Dancer Lia Kim in KORELIMITED Salja hat

Matthew: Man, I love all of our designs so much and each one has a significant unique meaning. One design that we produced with 1Million Dancer Lia Kim is the Salja hat. This hat is actually one of our top selling items. I did this design because I noticed a particular brand that used the Korean flag and language in a dark way. There was one design from that brand that had ‘자살 club’ (suicide club) written blatantly on the front of the hat. The brand is probably one of the biggest streetwear brands in 2017, and they always incorporate our Korean Flag in their design and in the 자살 design as well. The fact that this negative term was written in our language and worn by so many people, including Koreans, disturbed me a lot. Korea is known to have one of the highest suicide rates, and as a Korean I felt offended that a well-known brand would advertise this word as a mere fashion trend. So to promote a positive image, I flipped the word 자살 (ja sal) and proposed the 살자 (sal ja, let’s live) design to Lia Kim. She loved the idea of positivity and livelihood, and our Salja design has been the most successful design since day 1.    

Matthew giving back to the community by taking time to meet with KAC’s Summer Youth Program students.

OCKorean: We can see that your brand is growing very quickly but your store is only online. Any plans to open physical shops? Also, do you have any future projects or aspirations for KORE?

Matthew: Yes, we definitely have plans to open physical shops in the near future. In terms of projects, we have a lot of collaboration projects lined up with amazing artists and talents who are excited to work with us. So definitely, be on the lookout. My aspirations for KORE is to grow and expand as a brand obviously, but more importantly the mission is about Keepin Our Roots Eternal; it’s what K.O.R.E stands for. I would like everyone to eventually learn about Korean culture and see how beautiful and awesome it is. Some people buy our stuff because they like the meaning behind the design and others learn the meaning after they buy it. Either way, I’m thankful that it’s an opportunity to share my heritage with them. 

OCKorean: Thanks Matthew! We appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing more amazing things from you!

For those interested in learning more about KORELIMITED and supporting a company dedicated to keeping Korean heritage alive, please check out their line at KORELimited.com

SORI NA, Professional Dancer

 

49 Checkers Long Sleeve T-Shirt from KORELIMITED Stylebook

 

 

For those who love Korean clothing, Korean fashion, Korean style, Korean design, Korean apparel, Korean streetwear, designers, fashion, k-fashion, kpop, k-style. 

KAC to Co-Host Citizenship Clinic For Orange County’s Korean Population

 

 

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
July 25, 2017
CITIZENSHIP CLINIC TARGETS ORANGE COUNTY’S FASTEST GROWING IMMIGRATION POPULATION
Clinic will be the county’s largest citizenship event targeting Asian immigrants and the county’s first joint Korean collaboration for naturalization services

WHAT: 

Press conference to kick off citizenship clinic specifically targeting Orange County’s Korean American community – the 2nd largest Korean population in the country. Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Orange County, in collaboration with every Korean community-serving organizations in Orange County (Korean Community Services, Korean Resource Center, Korean American Center), expects to serve nearly 200 clients.

WHO:

Mayor Elizabeth SwiftMayor, City of Buena Park
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-SilvaState Assemblymember for the 65th Assembly District
Assemblyman Steven ChoiState Assembymember for the 68th Assembly District
Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel
Ellen AhnExecutive Director, Korean Community Services
Sylvia KimRegional Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Orange County
Tammy Kim, Executive Director, Korean American Center
Jonathan Paik,Orange County Director, Korean Resource Center
Tu-Trinh Pham, Home Depot
Paul SungVice President, Orange County Korean American Bar Association
Katie WanamakerVice President of Property Management & Government Relations, M+D Properties
 
 *In-language interviews available in Korean

WHEN:
Saturday, July 29, 2017
11:00 am

*Press conference to be followed by reception and walking tour.Please RSVP to Randy Bunnao at rbunnao@advancingjustice-la.org or at 213-241-0227.
WHERE:
La Huasteca in The Source OC
6940 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90621
WHY:
Orange County is home to an estimated 220,000 individuals who are eligible to naturalize. Nearly 30% or 50,000 are of Asian origin, but have yet to apply for U.S. citizenship. Language and financial barriers often make it difficult for immigrants to apply for citizenship. This event will provide free culturally competent citizenship services for registered attendees, including application and legal services.

Letter To Our Korean Parents: Black Lives Matter

The American Dream Cannot exist only for our children. 
아메리칸 드림은 저희들만을 위해 존재 할 수는 없어요.

A group of Asian American volunteers wrote an open letter to immigrant parents explaining their support for Black Lives Matter. Asian Americans have translated the letter into a number of native languages, including Korean. This is an important first step in starting conversations across generations about the issues that the United States is facing right now. Korean American Center applauds this project, and is proud to have participated. This took a tremendous amount of crowdsourced, volunteer-based labor from hundreds of people across the country. Below is the letter in both Korean and English

사랑하는 우리 부모님과 친척 여러분,

꼭 드리고 싶은 말씀이 있어요.

어려서부터 흑인들과 함께 자라지 않으신 분들께는 흑인들이 아직 어색하고 낯설게 느껴질 수도 있다는걸 알아요. 하지만 그들은 저의 학교 친구로서, 또 직장 동료로서, 그리고 제 가족으로서 제 삶의 정말 중요한 부분을 차지하고 있어요. 그런데 요즘 저는 이들의 안전이 걱정되고 불안해요.

올 한 해만 미국 경찰에 의해 살해당한 사람이 벌써 500명을 넘어서고 있어요. 그 중 흑인 사망자가 25%를 차지하는데, 흑인들이 미국 인구의 13%밖에 차지하지 않는다는 점을 고려하면 25%는 정말 높은 수치에요. 지난 7월 5일, 루이지애나 주에서는 두 명의 백인 경찰이 길거리에서 CD를 팔던 알톤 스털링(Alton Sterling)이라는 흑인 남성을 살해했어요. 그 바로 다음 날, 미네소타 주에서는 경찰이 통상적인 교통 검문 중에 필랜도 캐스틸(Philando Castile)이라는 흑인 남성을 쏴 죽였어요. 그의 여자친구와 4살배기 딸이 보는 바로 앞에서요.이 사건 외에도 정말 많은 상황에서 무고한 시민들의 삶을 빼앗은 경찰들은 어떠한 처벌도 받지 않고 있어요.

이것이 바로 저희들의 흑인 친구들이 매일 겪어나가야 하는 끔찍한 현실이죠.

흑인들이 직면하는 위험에 대해 듣는 이 순간에도, 우리 한국인들은 본능적으로 그들과 다르다고 생각할 수도 있어요. 그들의 고통에 공감하기보다는 그들의 현실을 외면하려고 하죠. 흑인이 경찰의 총에 맞았다는 소식을 들었을 때, 그 흑인이 무엇인가 잘못했기 때문이라고 생각하실수도 있어요. 흑인들이 폭력배나 범죄자로 그려지는 대중매체를 많이 접하셨을 수도 있으니까요. 우리는 미국에 빈손으로 와서 차별 속에서도 더 나은 삶을 만들어나가려 노력하며 사는데, ‘왜 흑인들은 그러지 못할까’라는 생각을 하실 수도 있어요.

그렇지만 제 생각은 조금 달라요.

물론, 미국이라는 나라에서 아시아계 사람들도 차별받는다는 것은 사실이에요. 때때로 사람들은 우리의 영어 발음을 듣고 무례하게 굴 때도 있고, 또는 아시아계 사람들은 리더쉽이 없다고 해서 승진시키지 않기도 해요. 심지어 우리 중 일부를 테러범이라고 부르기도 해요. 하지만 그래도 길거리를 걸어다니는 저희를 보고, 사람들이 “위험한 범죄자”라고 생각하지는 않죠. 단지 아시아계 사람이라는 이유만으로 경찰들이 우리 가족들을 총으로 쏘지도 않고요.

하지만 저희 흑인 친구들의 경험은 우리의 경험과 달라요. 많은 흑인들은 몇 세기 전 강제적으로 아메리카 대륙에 노예 신분으로 끌려왔었고 몇 세기 동안 흑인 공동체, 가족들, 개인들은 노예제도의 이익을 위해 착취 당해왔어요. 노예제도가 폐지된 이후에도 흑인들은 집을 소유할 권리나 투표권을 얻지 못했고, 결국에는 미국 정부나 공립기관의 도움없이 스스로 자신들의 삶을 다시 개척해나가야 했으며 그들은 오늘날까지 계속 이어지는 폭력의 위협 아래에서 살아가고 있어요.

흑인 인권운동가들은 자신들의 권리를 위해 싸우면서 그들만이 아닌, 우리 한국인을 포함한 모든 이들을 위한 기회들을 얻기 위해 운동을 추진해왔어요. 수많은 흑인 인권운동가들은 인종차별에 맞서 오랫동안 싸우던 도중 폭행을 당하고, 수감되고, 억울하게 목숨을 잃기도 했어요. 그리고 그 투쟁의 결과로 그나마 인종차별을 금지하는 제도들이 생기기 시작했고 결과적으로 흑인 인권운동가들이 힘들게 쟁취해 낸 ‘피부색 때문에 차별받지 않을 권리’를 미국에 살고 있는 우리의 많은 친구들과 친척들이 누리게 된거죠. 그럼에도 불구하고 우리 사회는 여전히 불공평하고 우리는 한국 이민자로써 겪는 차별은 부당하다고 느끼면서도 흑인들처럼 우리와 모습이 다른 사람들에 대한 편견은 버리지 못하고 있어요.

누군가가 집으로 걸어가다 법과 질서를 수호해야 하는 경찰관에 의해 총격을 당하면 – 설상 그 총격을 가한 경찰관이 동양인이라 하더라도 – 이것은 법률에 의한 평등성과 공정성을 희망하는 우리 모두에게 대한 공격이에요.

이런 이유로 인해 저는 “Black Lives Matter” (“흑인 생명도 소중하다”) 운동을 지지하고 있어요. 이 운동을 지지한다는 건 저와 같은 동네에서 살아가는 사람들, 또는 제 가족 일원들이 미국 흑인들의 인간성을 폄하하는 발언이나 행동을 할 때 거리낌없이 지적하고 바로 잡는 것이에요. 이런 말씀을 드리는 건 이 이슈가 우리 사이를 갈라 놓지 않기를 바라기 때문이에요. 경찰의 폭력으로 인해 사랑하는 사람을 떠나보낸 부모님들 그리고 그 아이들의 분노와 슬픔에 공감하시려고 노력해 주시길 부탁드려요. 더불어 저의 분노와 슬픔도 공감해 주시고, 제가 저의 의견을 피력하고 시위에 참여하기로 할 때 제 결정을 지지해주시길 부탁드려요. 친구분들께도 이 메시지를 전달해주시고 공감을 표하실 수 있도록 권유해주세요.

저희들을 위해 험한 여정을 통해 미국으로 이주하셨고, 결코 이민자에게 너그럽지 못했던 이 나라에서 수십 년간 견뎌 오셨다는 사실을 너무도 자랑스럽고 감사하게 생각해요. 직접 겪어온 힘든 일들을 저희가 겪지 않았으면 하는 바램으로써, 저희가 “아메리칸 드림”을 이룰 수 있도록 편견이 가득한 이 땅에서 고생하셨다는 걸 너무나도 잘 알아요.

하지만 이것만큼은 고려해 주시길 바라요: 아메리칸 드림은 저희들만을 위해 존재할 수는 없어요. 우리는 모두 같은 배에 탄 처지이고, 우리의 친구와 이웃들 그리고 사랑하는 이들 모두가 안전할 때까지 우리 또한 안전하다고 느낄 수 없어요. 우리가 이루고자 하는 아메리칸 드림은 모든 이들이 경찰의 폭행에 대한 두려움 없이 살아갈 수 있는 미래에요.

사랑하는 자녀들, 조카, 손주 올림

 

Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie, Grandfather, Grandmother:

We need to talk.

You may not have grown up around people who are Black, but I have. Black people are a fundamental part of my life: they are my friends, my classmates and teammates, my roommates, my family. Today, I’m scared for them.

This year, the American police have already killed more than 500 people. Of those, 25% have been Black, even though Black people make up only 13% of the population. Earlier this week in Louisiana, two White police officers killed a Black man named Alton Sterling while he sold CDs on the street. The very next day in Minnesota, a police officer shot and killed a Black man named Philando Castile in his car during a traffic stop while his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter looked on. Overwhelmingly, the police do not face any consequences for ending these lives.

This is a terrifying reality that some of my closest friends live with every day.

Even as we hear about the dangers Black Americans face, our instinct is sometimes to point at all the ways we are different from them. To shield ourselves from their reality instead of empathizing. When a policeman shoots a Black person, you might think it’s the victim’s fault because you see so many images of them in the media as thugs and criminals. After all, you might say, we managed to come to America with nothing and build good lives for ourselves despite discrimination, so why can’t they?

I want to share with you how I see things.

It’s true that we face discrimination for being Asian in this country. Sometimes people are rude to us about our accents, or withhold promotions because they don’t think of us as “leadership material.” Some of us are told we’re terrorists. But for the most part, nobody thinks “dangerous criminal” when we are walking down the street. The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.

This is not the case for our Black friends. Many Black people were brought to America as slaves against their will. For centuries, their communities, families, and bodies were ripped apart for profit. Even after slavery, they had to build back their lives by themselves, with no institutional support — not allowed to vote or own homes, and constantly under threat of violence that continues to this day.

In fighting for their own rights, Black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well. Black people have been beaten, jailed, even killed fighting for many of the rights that Asian Americans enjoy today. We owe them so much in return. We are all fighting against the same unfair system that prefers we compete against each other.

When someone is walking home and gets shot by a sworn protector of the peace — even if that officer’s last name is Liang — that is an assault on all of us, and on all of our hopes for equality and fairness under the law.

For all of these reasons, I support the Black Lives Matter movement. Part of that support means speaking up when I see people in my community — or even my own family — say or do things that diminish the humanity of Black Americans in this country. I am telling you this out of love, because I don’t want this issue to divide us. I’m asking that you try to empathize with the anger and grief of the fathers, mothers, and children who have lost their loved ones to police violence. To empathize with my anger and grief, and support me if I choose to be vocal, to protest. To share this letter with your friends, and encourage them to be empathetic, too.

As your child, I am proud and eternally grateful that you made the long, hard journey to this country, that you’ve lived decades in a place that has not always been kind to you. You’ve never wished your struggles upon me. Instead, you’ve suffered through a prejudiced America, to bring me closer to the American Dream.

But I hope you can consider this: the American Dream cannot exist for only your children. We are all in this together, and we cannot feel safe until ALL our friends, loved ones, and neighbors are safe. The American Dream that we seek is a place where all Americans can live without fear of police violence. This is the future that I want — and one that I hope you want, too.

With love and hope,

Your children

Letters For Black Lives