In commemoration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, American legend Michael Chang penned a poignant essay urging unity and calling for the end of racially motivated hate crimes.
Chang, who was born in Hoboken to parents from Chinese Taipei, also wrote about the way mistrust and misinformation surrounding COVID-19 has fueled the recent wave of violent crime and discrimination against the AAPI community in the US.
It’s a subject that Chang knows all too well, as he recalled being on the receiving end of racially motivated discrimination during a recent outing with his wife Amber Liu Chang.
Chang is best known for his 1989 run to the French Open title at 17 years old, and his International Tennis Hall of Fame career includes 34 tour-level singles titles. The former World No. 2 has also been the long-time coach of Kei Nishikori.
Read this excerpt below from Chang’s essay penned for USTA.com.
These hate crimes are incredibly disturbing to me, an Asian-American born and raised in the United States. My parents are in their late seventies and, just like everyone else in this COVID-19 pandemic, have taken many precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from contracting the virus. But now, even with vaccinations being made more available and COVID-19 infection numbers falling, they have a new fear and concern: racial hate crime.
I understand that this pandemic has not been easy for anyone. Many of us have lost someone that matters or been sick ourselves. And we have all had to make changes and sacrifices in our lives which we never envisioned in order to do our part to stop the spread of this terrible virus. But unfortunately, some individuals have targeted their frustration and anger, choosing to place blame for this pandemic on my fellow Asian-Americans. I’ve experienced this type of discrimination firsthand. Recently, when walking into my local Walmart with my wife (thankfully without our kids), a man told me to, “Go back to China—you brought the coronavirus here!”
My wife and I were shocked and immediately replied, “Excuse me?” He made another similar comment and walked away. My first thought was, “Wait, I was born and raised in the United States just like you.” But even if I had been born and raised in China, would that make me worthy of harassment? As I have come to realize, ignorance doesn’t always recognize what is true, and the truth often remains unseen—particularly when there is so much misinformation being shared around us.
While I know that people sometimes make comments without thinking or out of ignorance, we are seeing that kind of ignorance taken to another level entirely—that of violence upon completely innocent people—and this is unacceptable. Every day, we all see the disturbing images and video clips of these hate crimes all around the U.S. It HAS to stop because it only results in shattered lives.
Visit USTA.com to read Chang’s full essay.