While addressing the issue of a steady rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, Lee Wong—a board of trustees chairman in West Chester Township, Ohio—made a powerful statement that quickly went viral.
Wong addressed a meeting of the trustees, saying:
"For too long, I have put up with a lot of sh*t in silence. Too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination."
Wong hit on a central theme of the racist rhetoric of White nationalism which states only White people are the true citizens of the United States while all non-Whites are interlopers or undesirables.
Wong—who served in the United States Army for 20 years—said:
"There are some annoying people that would come up to me and say that I don't look American, or patriotic enough."
"People question my patriotism, that I don't look American enough."
"They cannot get over this face."
He then told his fellow trustees:
"I want to show you something."
"Because I'm not afraid. I don't have to live in fear, intimidation or insults."
Wong then removed his suit jacket and unbuttoned his dress shirt.
"I'm going to show you what patriotism, the questions about patriotism, looks like."
Lifting his undershirt, Wong showed scars he got while serving in the military.
"Here is my proof. Now, is this patriot enough?"
"I'm not ashamed to walk around anymore."
You can see the moment here:
Lee Wong, an elected official in West Chester, Ohio & @USArmy veteran with 20-years of service, took his shirt off… https://t.co/cEHuQvmQE9— James LaPorta (@James LaPorta) 1616793446.0
After returning to his seat, the Army veteran stated:
"Prejudice is hate. And that hate can be changed."
"We are human. We need to be kinder, gentler to one another."
"Because we are all the same. We are one human being on this Earth."
People were moved by Wong's comments.
Veteran & Chair of the West Chester Township (OH) Bd of Trustees Lee Wong has had it. Lifting Mr. Wong up today wit… https://t.co/uC5RjNXedq— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sherrilyn Ifill) 1616848288.0
@c_hris_z @JimLaPorta @USArmy That’s it. That’s the point. That’s the reason he did this. Anti-Asian racism is what… https://t.co/8697Eil8Nl— shotime 🖤 (@shotime 🖤) 1616854273.0
@PattyArquette @JimLaPorta @USArmy Given how hard it must have been for him to do this, how far he feels he has bee… https://t.co/WkHLRmyBzr— Force is Never Justified (@Force is Never Justified) 1616813550.0
Lee Wong, an Asian American elected official & veteran, shares his scars in a town hall meeting, tired of the anti-… https://t.co/scFJrMLDGX— Frances Wang (#FrannyInMiami) (@Frances Wang (#FrannyInMiami)) 1616819901.0
@CriticallyPDCST @JimLaPorta @USArmy Obviously he shouldn't have. That's the whole point— Edward (@Edward) 1616918420.0
no one should prove how "American" they are to deserve dignity and respect. but damn. Lee Wong went hard on them… https://t.co/y14sZlhcbA— Jenny Yang (@Jenny Yang) 1616860095.0
In an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer, Wong said:
"In that moment, I don't know what came over me. I just knew I had to say something."
"People thank me for my service. People are glad I spoke."
"West Chester is a diverse community, and we don't need that kind of [anti-Asian] rhetoric."