Why Stopping the Hate Matters to Me

William Moss, Director of Reputation Communications, Intel

The killing of eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta this week, is a sad capstone to a year of growing violence against Asian Americans and Asian people living in America. While the violence in Atlanta is drawing attention to the longer-term problems of racism against Asians and Asian Americans, it’s easy to imagine the attention receding as the headlines inevitably do.

I hope that isn’t the case. This issue is personal to me because of my family. My wife is ethnic Chinese; we were married in Singapore nearly twenty years ago. My son, Zachary, born while we were living in China, is mixed race. Now thirteen, and growing up in Silicon Valley, he is at an age where he will have to learn to navigate his identity in ways he didn’t have to grapple with when he was younger and less self-conscious.

I think about this because I feel poorly qualified to help him understand his identity as an Asian American, especially when there is news like this week’s. I grew up white in San Francisco. I lived in Asia for nearly twenty years, and racial caste systems were everywhere, but white expatriates are privileged in such systems, or at least exempted from them. Even my wife, an immigrant to the U.S., doesn’t have the same frame of reference. The representation issues that matter to Asian Americans don’t resonate with her the same way.

So, what can I do? Well, I can be there for him. I can listen to his experiences and be respectful and understanding of them. When he asks for advice, I will give it. Where he needs support, I will provide it. Where he wants to set his own path, I will let him. Where I see injustices that will impact him, I will take action and speak up. When I trespass, I will try to listen, learn and not be defensive. And I can try to make this country a better place for Asian immigrants, Asian Americans and, indeed, everyone else. Ultimately, that’s all I can offer anyone.

Honestly, I shouldn’t need to have an Asian American son to be aware of racism any more than men should need to have daughters to start thinking about gender issues. But there is power to an issue being personal. Maybe we all need to look for the points of relevance that make otherwise abstract social issues real to us.

Even if not in our families, we all know people in our lives and workplaces impacted by racism, gender discrimination and other forms of discrimination, and if we don’t see them, we’re not looking. If greater awareness drives us to act and motivates us to keep problems from receding in the great wash of headlines, so much the better.

My wife and I moved to the United States from China in 2013 because we believed that this would be the best place for our multi-ethnic son to grow up. We still believe that. But the last year has shown that the U.S. could still be so much better. As an Intel employee, I’m proud that Intel recognizes this issue and supports the COVID-19 Hate Crime Act (H.R. 1843) legislation, which will address the rise of hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

I treasure being part of a multi-ethnic household, and I want America to be able to revel in being a multi-ethnic nation. For my son’s sake, and everyone else’s, I will do my best to make that happen. I will keep looking.

16 thoughts on “Why Stopping the Hate Matters to Me

  1. Honestly, I shouldn’t need to have an Asian American son to be aware of racism any more than men should need to have daughters to start thinking about gender issues. But there is power to an issue being personal. Maybe we all need to look for the points of relevance that make otherwise abstract social issues real to us.

  2. Very powerful writing and thanks for showing the support for Asian Americans at this critical moment.

  3. We should all learn something from what you said. Thank you Will for your strong words. 

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. Storytelling is how we hear, see, learn, and what ultimately connects us. I will do my best to help & support anyway I can.

  5. This breaks my heart to hear about your son. I have 5 nieces and nephews all of mixed-race, black, and caucasian, and the stories they told me about growing up mixed-race were heartbreaking. They said if schools were better prepared to openly talk about racism, and bullying it may have made their lives a little easier. They are all grown, college-educated, and raising families of their own. I admire their strength and understanding.

  6. Thank you for your powerful writing and support for Asians and Asian Americans who live in this country.

  7. William, Thank you for sharing your powerful story and words of encouragements; it reminds me the following quote by Dr. Martin Luther King:
    ” Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

  8. Thank you for such a poignant perspective. We need to learn to recognize the experiences of others, whether or not we share them personally. We need to empathize and learn as people. Understanding and compassion shouldn’t be limited to those who share a race, identity or characteristic with us personally. Yes hate and bias affect members of groups specifically targeted more than we can know if we aren’t part of that group but as people, we need to support each other, listen and learn no matter what.

  9. Will~~We briefly worked together @ Motorola. ^_^ Thank you for sharing your personal story and speaking out for Asians. I believe your son will grow up proud and strong because he has YOU for a father.

    My parents came to the US in 1975 to give us a better opportunity. We didn’t know a word of English. The recent news brought back all the painful memories of growing up Asian in the Bay Area. We Asians kept silent and buried the pain because no one would stand up for us back then. We lived quietly, worked hard, and tried not to draw attention to ourselves. I live each day knowing racism is alive and well whether outwardly expressed towards me or not. I do hope the world can stop the blaming, show humility and compassion, ask for forgiveness, and be forgiven. We are all God’s children–no matter what color. Peace.

    1. Thank you, Terri! Seems there are a few of us old Motorolans at Intel now. I am so glad you had a chance to read this, and really appreciate you sharing your own thoughts!

  10. Outstanding perspective and reminder of challenges faced by our families and friends. Thank you for your candid sharing of this important personal story.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story and showing support to the Asian American community.

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