A Letter to My Taiwanese American Mom on Trump

Dear Mam-mah,

You have given me so much. I have happiness and security today because of the many sacrifices you made for your children and grandchildren. When A-pah was killed in the plane crash, you raised four children on your own, took care of our education and financial security, and made sure that we felt loved. I remember during the hard times going to bed with despair then waking up to your singing to the morning sun. Your beautiful and powerful voice filled my insides with your love. You gave me hope to start another day. Everything I have accomplished in my life has been because of your hard work, love, and teaching. You taught me to prioritize family and community interests before my self-interest. You taught me to be an ethical person and to do the right thing even when it’s hard. You taught me to be kind, loving, and generous to others. You taught me to think about the future and not just dwell on the present conditions.

This is why I am very concerned about your potential support of President Trump. It has taken me a long time to understand the importance of Taiwan’s security to you and why you vote for the presidential candidate you believe supports Taiwan over China. I remember growing up and being corrected by you when I told people I was Chinese. No, you would say, we’re Taiwanese, not Chinese. Back then I did not understand the difference and even though I lived in Taiwan for the first years of my life, it was a distant memory. Today, I understand what you were trying to tell me. I now understand Taiwan’s long struggle for freedom and democracy. I now understand the great sacrifices our family members made for Taiwanese liberation. I also understand Taiwan’s precarious situation with the constant looming threat of a China takeover. I understand and am concerned about how many world governments have abandoned Taiwan to advance their economic and national security interests with China. Today, I am very proud to call myself Taiwanese American and I instill Taiwanese pride in your grandchildren.

But we cannot trust Donald Trump to be loyal to Taiwan and defend our beloved home country if China attempts to invade it, even with the recent US arms sale to Taiwan. Why do I believe this? Because you taught me to judge people by their character and actions, not just words. As president, Donald Trump has gone back and forth with China — on some days he sings President Xi’s praises and sends his son-in-law to China to negotiate trade deals. On other days, Donald Trump blames President Xi for COVID. Throughout his life, Donald Trump has demonstrated by his behavior that he only cares about himself and making money.

You taught me that a person doesn’t change their stripes just because they change their words. Why then should we trust that as president Donald Trump would side with Taiwan over China? I am not sure that Joe Biden as president would be better on Taiwan. The reality is that the US government will always act in their economic, political, and national security interests, and what someone running for president says may be very different from what they actually do. This is why I believe your decision-making on the 2020 election should not be about Taiwan because we really don’t know what either candidate will do about Taiwan after the election. Instead, I believe with all of my heart that this election should be about something else that is very dear to you — the fate of your children and your grandchildren.

President Trump has been directly responsible for the alarming rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. He has blamed COVID on China to deflect from his failures to control COVID’s spread the way that Taiwan successfully has done. Every time President Trump calls COVID the “China virus” or the “Kungfu Virus,” it has incited people to attack Asian Americans. Asian American organizations have reported rising attacks on thousands of Asian Americans across the US since January 2020. It doesn’t matter if we’re from Taiwan or Korea or Japan — many Americans don’t know or care about the difference. If Donald Trump continues as president, then the safety of your children and grandchildren will continue to be at risk. Even when COVID is eventually contained, with China’s rising superpowers, there will be inevitable future US and China conflicts. It is critical to Asian Americans that we do not have a president who engages in scapegoating of a country or group of people, as Donald Trump has proven he does.

I have never told you about many of my painful childhood experiences because I did not want to burden you — you had so many burdens already. As a child, one of my first memories of the US was walking down the street with you and witnessing a total stranger come up and call you a “Chink” and spit at you, my beautiful mother. You didn’t say a word and we continued walking. School was a nightmare for me because other children would bully me, they would call me names or punch or kick me. I even had a teacher in 7th grade who made me stand in front of the class and say the number “33” over and over again while the class mocked my accent. I endured this cruelty and injustice in silence. These experiences fueled my motivation to become a lawyer and fight for justice for our family, Asian Americans, and all people.

Today in the year 2020, as Asian Americans we have a duty to speak up and stand up for our community. It is not acceptable that Asian American children, students, families, business owners, grandmothers are facing racial slurs, vandalism, and assaults across the nation because of their ethnicity. Please read about some of the attacks reported — this is real. It is not acceptable for your children and grandchildren to live in fear for their safety. These injustices will only continue if Donald Trump remains as president.

My dearest mother, I am asking you to please not vote for Donald Trump, it will hurt the safety and dignity of your precious children and grandchildren. Instead, please vote for Joe Biden in order to guarantee a future of inclusion and belonging for our future generations in America.





您常說「江山易改,本性難移」,那為什麼我們應該相信川普總統會與台灣站在同一陣線呢?我不確定如果拜登當選總統,是否會對台灣帶來任何好處。事實上,美國政府終究只會按照國家的經濟、政治和安全利益行事,而每位總統候選人說的話往往會與實際情況大不相同。這就是為什麼我相信,您對 2020 年美國總統大選的決定不應取決台灣,因為沒有人可以真的預測,這兩位候選人在選後會對台灣帶來哪些影響。而我深深相信,這次選舉真正攸關的是您兒孫的寶貴命運。

最近在美國,針對亞裔美國人的仇恨犯罪事件不斷出現,而川普總統應該負上最直接的責任。他將新冠病毒疫情歸咎於中國,並指出對方未能像台灣一樣成功控制疫情。每當川普總統稱新冠病毒為「中國病毒」或「功夫病毒」時,這些言論就會煽動人們攻擊亞裔美國人。根據亞裔美國人組織公布的研究報告,自 2020 年 1 月以來,全美國出現了成千上萬起針對亞裔美國人的攻擊事件,且這些數字還在不斷增加。無論我們是台灣人、韓國人還是日本人,這些情況都依舊會發生,因為許多美國人並不知道或不在乎這些民族間的區別。如果川普繼續擔任美國總統,那麼您的子孫將繼續受到安全上的威脅。即使疫情最後獲得控制,隨著中國的勢力不斷崛起,未來在中美之間也將發生許多不可避免的衝突。對於亞裔美國人而言,最重要的是不再有一位會將特定國家或民族作為代罪羔羊的總統,而川普正是這樣的總統。

我從未告訴您許多童年時的痛苦回憶,因為我不想給您更多的負擔。我對美國最初的記憶之一,就是小時候和您一起走在街上時,目睹一名陌生人走過來,叫了一聲「中國佬 (Chink)」並向您吐口水。當時,您什麼也沒說,只是帶我繼續走。上學對我來說是一場惡夢,因為其他孩子會欺負我,他們為我取綽號,或對我拳打腳踢。七年級的時,有一位老師甚至命令我站在全班面前一遍又一遍地唸數字「33」,並讓全班同學嘲笑我的口音。 我默默地忍受了這些歧視與委屈。這些經驗讓我決心努力向上,並激發我成為律師,為我的家人、亞裔美國人及其他所有人爭取正義。

在 2020 年的今天,身為亞裔美國人,我們有義務表達自己的權益,並捍衛我們的群體。亞裔美國人的孩子、學生、家庭、業主和長輩不應該再因為自己的種族,而在全國面對種族侮辱、蓄意傷害和人身攻擊。請您閱讀以下連結中一些真實的攻擊時間:您的後代子孫不應該再為安全問題,而生活在恐懼之中。而只要川普還在任總統,這些不公平的歧視問題就不會停止。


Human rights lawyer & racial justice advocate. ED of Just Cities, a transformative justice policy org. Teacher of UC Berkeley future government disrupters.