A local official in Ohio has gone viral after giving a powerful speech about anti–Asian American racism in which he revealed scars sustained during his service in the US military.
"For too long, I have put up with a lot of shit in silence," said Lee Wong, a board of trustees chairman in West Chester Township, Ohio, during a meeting Tuesday. "Too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination."
Wong, 69, said that he felt loved by his community, but he'd also witnessed racism against Asian Americans in the past few years becoming "worse and worse." His remarks came after a mass shooting left eight people dead in Atlanta, including six Asian women, as well as a documented rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
Even after serving his country, Wong said, he has experienced discrimination from people who questioned his loyalty because of his race.
"There are some annoying people that would come up to me and say that I don't look American, or patriotic enough," Wong said. "People question my patriotism, that I don't look American enough. They cannot get over this face."
Wong described an incident that occurred several years after he'd arrived in the US from Borneo at age 18, in which he was beaten by a man in Chicago who was never punished for the crime.
The traumatic event changed the course of his life, Wong said, adding that he went on to serve 20 years of active duty in the US Army.
"I'm not afraid; I don't have to live in fear [of] intimidation or insults," Wong said. "I'm going to show you what patriotism, the questions about patriotism, looks like."
Wong then rose from his chair and removed his shirt to reveal visible scars across his chest, sustained in the line of duty.
"Here is my proof," he said. "Now, is this patriot enough? I'm not ashamed to walk around anymore."