A township trustee in Butler County, Ohio bared his scarred chest at a board meeting Tuesday to challenge prejudice against Asian Americans, who remain targets of hate crimes across the country.
Lee Wong, who was elected in West Chester Township, moved from China to the U.S. at the age of 18 in the late 1960s.
A few years later, he had his first physical brush with racism when someone beat him up in Chicago just because he is Asian.
“That put me to the hospital,” Wong told FOX19 NOW.
Wong then joined the armed forces for 20 years. He received his scar while stationed at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
Despite all his years of service, Wong still faced racism, from children making slant-eye gestures to adults outright saying that he did not look American enough.
“When someone comes up and says that to me, it’s like a stab in my heart,” Wong told FOX19 NOW.
All these experiences forced the veteran to remove his shirt and show his scar at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“I have put up with a lot of (expletive) in silence, excuse me the language, too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination,” Wong said at the meeting, according to Journal-News.
“There are some people that will come up to me and say I don’t look American, or patriotic enough, now that really gets my goat. I’m getting a little hot on this issue here.
“People question my patriotism, that I don’t look American enough. They can’t get over this face. I want to show you something. I don’t have to live in fear, intimidation, insults.
“Here is my proof, this is sustained from my service in the U.S. Army, is this patriot enough?”
Wong’s gesture comes a week after six Asian women were killed in mass shootings in the Atlanta area.
Since the onset of COVID-19, the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate has recorded nearly 3,800 cases of anti-Asian incidents. Over 68% involved verbal harassment or name-calling, while 11.1% involved physical confrontations.
Feature Image Screenshots via West Chester Township