Asian-American bares his military scars to make an emotional point about racism in the US

An Asian-American veteran has used the scars from his military service to make an emotional point about deteriorating race relations in the United States.

Lee Wong, the 69-year-old chair of the West Chester Board of Trustees in Ohio, moved to the US when he was 18.

The spontaneous act at the town hall meeting resulted from what he described as decades of racial abuse, including being bashed by someone for being of Asian descent.

The meeting came days after a string of shootings in spa parlours across Atlanta, leaving eight people dead – including six women of Asian backgrounds.

A report by the UN has flagged more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian-Americans in the US over an eight-week period in 2020.

The attacks included physical assaults, vandalism, verbal harassment and denial of services.

The findings also contain reports of Asian-American women being harassed more than twice as much as men. More than a quarter of verbal attacks made references to China, including many instances of Asian-Americans being told to go back to China.

Recent attacks against Asian-Americans have in-part been fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and talk of the “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan virus” or the “Kung flu” by former president Donald Trump.

In an apparent rebuke of Mr Trump’s characterisation of the coronavirus crisis, President Joe Biden urged Americans to “combat the resurgence of xenophobia” following the Atlanta murders.

Mr Wong said the recent events spurred him to speak out and show his scars from the military service.

“People questioned my patriotism,” Mr Wong told the meeting on 23 March, before showing the scars on his chest.

“Now is this patriot enough? I’m not ashamed to walk around anymore. Before, I felt inhibited, people looked at me strange.”

Earlier in March, a survey by the Lowy Institute found more than a third of Chinese Australians reported facing discrimination in 2020.

Almost one-in-five Chinese Australians have also reported having been physically threatened or attacked in the past year.

The Lowy Institute and UN reports both affirm these COVID-related attacks can be traced back to pre-existing prejudices.

“Prejudice is hate,” Mr Wong said, “and that hate can be changed. We are human and we need to be kinder, gentler to one another, because we are all the same.”

The town hall video has received an overwhelmingly positive response on Twitter from broadcasters and media commentators.

The hashtag #StopAsianHate has also gone viral following a wave of rallies in support of the Asian community, with federal politicians posting their tributes to the victims of the Atlanta shooting.

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