这封信是写给你们，我多年的朋友，不仅仅是在争取公民权利方面、而且在所有进步事业中将美国亚裔包括在内的社会活动家们。我在与你们共事的过程中明白，要说服美国非裔、拉美裔、犹太人和其他致力于社会正义的人士，他们的原则同样适用于亚洲移民以及他们生长于美国的子孙，并非易事。 有些人表示怀疑，有些则怀有敌意。 然而，我致信你们，表达一种不同的忧虑。这一看法同样敏感，但更为严重的是，它可能是你们在建设沟通桥梁的工作中潜在的障碍。它甚至可能意味着这一事业的终结。
令我担心的问题是这样 — 虽然我对于提及此事有些犹豫不决，但等待只会使情况变得更糟 — 他们（中的一些人）似乎对亚裔美国人（老华侨），那些以这个称呼自居的和那些更加同化的人，感到愤怒，正如他们对于一些白人和黑人态度。有人这样告诉我。
（他们中的一些人认为）我们不代表他们，我们不同情他们。我们背叛了他们。我们甚至不能用他们视为共同的语言来沟通。在国语（mandarin）中，“国语”这个词就是 “全国的语言”的意思 —— 尽管我被告知他们有时会喜欢用自己的方言，比如台山话。
（点击本文底部的“阅读原文Read more”会跳转到The Huffington Post原文）
A Private Note to Asian American Activists about New Arrivals
Frank H. Wu
Distinguished Professor, University of California Hastings College of the Law
Chair, Committee of 100
03/18/2017 08:57 am ET | Updated 03/20/2017 06:00pm ET
I write to you as my long-time friends, those who have fought not only for civil rights but also to include Asian Americans in all progressive causes. I know from working alongside you that it has not been easy to persuade African Americans, Latinos, Jews, and others who have been dedicated to social justice that their principles extend to Asian immigrants and their American-born children and grandchildren. Some have been skeptical, others hostile. Yet I send you a note now to express a different concern. It is as sensitive if not more so, but it also is even more serious a potential barrier to your bridge building efforts. It could signal the end of the project altogether.
Here it is. The most recent set of newcomers from Asia, in particular those arriving from China, do not share our commitments. I implore you to reach out, to listen to them respectfully, and to try to persuade them. That requires that you — and I — not assume they need educating by us, as if we were self-appointed teachers, they permanently students. They will have none of that. They have experienced it enough.
Everywhere I encounter them, whether in suburban Southern California; the “Avenues” of western San Francisco; Silicon Valley; on the East Coast; or in communities that have developed seemingly overnight where there once were virtually no Asian faces to be seen, they complain. They are frustrated. I am familiar with the source of that sentiment: the literal historic exclusion and the tangible ongoing denial of equality.
But here is what worries me. While I have hesitated to call out the problem, waiting makes it worse. They seem to be as angry about Asian Americans, those who call themselves by that name and who are more assimilated, as they are about whites and blacks. They tell me so.
We do not represent them, We are not sympathetic to them. We have betrayed them. We cannot even communicate in the language they deem ours. One of the common words for “Mandarin” in Mandarin itself translates as “the national language” — though I am advised they’d prefer a dialect such as Toisan in any event.
The greatest ironies are always in the mirror image. To us, they are very Asian. To them, we are very American. We are not quite one another’s people. Waiting for the kids to grow up won’t work. (Yes, more than one of you has said that, only partly in jest.)
The truth is we are different. They come from an ascendant Asia. They can continue to maintain contacts with “the homeland,” thanks to technology. They identify, as our forebears did, not as “Asian,” but by their ethnicity, clan, province, religion, and circumstances. They are American on their own terms.
We are as foreign to them as they are to us, despite others telling us we all look alike. And they are aware of our condescension, even if we would deny it. As with other groups of every color and creed, those who settled, if only slightly earlier, invariably imply they are better than their country cousins. As much as the phrase is appropriated and ironic, even hip, there is a stigma to being “fresh off the boat.” The stereotype is repeated: too much bling, not enough lining up in an orderly manner; nose-picking, spitting, bad driving, passive-aggressive conduct, and, let us hope, at least no dog-eating.
I do not doubt, and you have explained to me privately your concerns with which I do not disagree. Some of our cousins, distant kin who have shown up here, are alarming. They are bigots who do not care about democracy. They believe themselves to be better than other people of color, it hardly is worth pointing out since it is so obvious. They even suppose, not all that secretly, that they will surpass whites. They also might be corrupt albeit by our standards. There is no telling.
They are only starting to assert themselves. They do not claim disadvantage. Just the opposite. They attack, as Asians are not stereotyped for doing. On issue after issue, ranging from diversity in higher education to “illegal” immigration to LGBT rights to police brutality to corporal punishment to capital punishment, they are prepared to line up as a token Asian face on the other side of whatever protest you are organizing. Even on the environment, they feel persecuted for their taste for shark fin soup or exotic delicacies involving endangered species. And good for them. Their accent does not hold them back.
I have heard Asian Americans who have urged civic engagement lament that they find themselves surrounded by Asians who will stand up and speak out, albeit for themselves. A mascot for your opponent, they will be only more infuriated if you suggest they are pawns being used. They sense your embarrassment. They are self-serving for survival.
Be that as it may, I offer two reasons that are compelling enough. I am convinced anyway, to embrace them. It need not be “us” versus “them,” especially since others cannot distinguish.
The first reason is what we say. We talk about how important it is to sustain coalitions. We fought for a “seat at the table.” It would be wrong for us to be any less than wholeheartedly welcoming to those who look like us. We have to give them space too. We would be hypocrites otherwise. If we do not yield, we will be shoved aside. There is room for all, or so we ourselves proclaim.
The second reason is strategic. There are more of them than there are of us. They keep coming. The majority of Asian Americans are foreign-born, not native born. Immigration patterns ensure that this demographic balance of power will favor the former over the latter, at least for our lifetimes. If we do not win them over, or ally with them, they will overtake us numerically and render us irrelevant politically.
If Asian Americans want the concept of “Asian American” to last another generation, we must figure out how to engage with all who belong to an artificial, fragile category. The failure of the movement will be “on us,” to use the vernacular we must speak.
We must come together.