HomeBad Ass AsiansLee Wong in NYC Chinatown: "I am an American by choice"
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Lee Wong in NYC Chinatown: “I am an American by choice”

By Shirley Ng, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Manhattan Chinatown was treated with a special visit on Thursday by Lee Wong, the 69 year old behind the recent viral video that made him an American hero in the face of anti-Asian hate.

In March, during a live video conference of a township meeting, Wong spoke about the time when he was told that he “doesn’t look American or patriotic enough.” He began to remove his shirt and tie. “Let me show you what patriotism looks like,” he said. Tired of racism and anti-Asian hate, he lifted up his undershirt and asked, “Is this patriot enough?” revealing large scars on live video that he suffered during military training.

“NYC is home to one of the largest AAPI communities. The community suffered some of the worst forms of racism and racially charged hate crimes,” said Wong to AsAmNews. “I am here to show support and meet with community leaders to explore ways to address these issues.”

In the evening, community leaders organized a dinner to honor Wong for speaking out against anti-Asian hate and to congratulate him on his fearlessness during the Ohio township meeting to stop racism. Dinner tickets were $50 per person with all the proceeds to support Royal Seafood Restaurant on Mott Street. The dinner also happened to be the first organized indoor dinner in Chinatown since COVID.

By Shirley Ng, AsAmNews

Wong shared with the guests about the time he was a young man and was mistaken as Japanese. He was beaten as racial slurs were hurled at him and he sustained injuries that needed to be treated at the hospital. His suspect was given no jail time.

“Reading about the rise in attacks against Asian Americans in the past few years, combined with my personal experiences over the last 50 years, caused my pot to boil over. I felt it was time to add my voice to those that were saying they had enough,” he explained to the dinner guests as to why he took his shirt off to reveal his scars.

By Shirley Ng

Wong is a proud retired veteran. He served as a military police officer for 20 years. He holds a Master’s degree in Science of Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. He immigrated to America from Malaysia when he was 18 years and is of Chinese descent.

“I love this country with a soldier’s passion. I am a American by choice”, he said at the dinner.

The image of him and his scars is a strong visual that is sure to stick around for a long time. The impact of his testimony now challenges any racists that dare to question an Asian American’s patriotism.

Photo courtesy Lee Wong

Many Asian Americans are beginning to feel they have their backs up against the wall to prove their patriotism after being told they do not belong here and or that they may be spies. They are at a breaking point where they had enough of the anti-Asian hate and microaggressions, that fighting back seems to be a common sentiment to keep themselves safe if attacked. When the grandmother in San Francisco fought off an attacker, she sent the suspect to the hospital. There was a resounding support of her brave actions that made her a heroine on social media.

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