The Two Sides of Rage

Rage is usually ugly.

When we get mad, we turn bad.

We act out our anger, we kick and scream to get attention.

But often as our voices get loud, our message gets lost.

Rarely do I find rage rationally and beautifully expressed, hitting all the right notes. So when I read this powerfully poignant message in “Say My Name”, my ears perked up.

“In the short history of America, the Chinese community—as well as the Asian community at large—has been stereotyped, stigmatized, fetishized, marginalized, and outright discriminated against in an unbelievable number of ways.”

“Coincidentally, our culture has also taught us to constantly self-examine, avoid conflicts, and be harmonious.”

“If there’s anything that explains why Asians have come to be the “model minority” while enduring these injustices, it would be that we tend to keep our mouths shut, heads down, and have an incredible work ethic.”

“If there’s anything that explains why our predicament saw only limited advancement over centuries, it is this same fatal silence.”

Here’s the context.

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Just a few weeks ago, numerous Chinese students at Columbia University found their name tags ripped off from their dormitory doors.

Who did it? And why? As Columbia University began an investigation into what appeared to be a racially charged incident, HuHe Yan,

huhe Yan

a sophomore at Columbia University from China, broke his silence with this thoughtful commentary even as he was grappling with roiling rage, confusion and cry for justice.

HuHe, who’s only been in America for a year and a half, took his rage one step further. He decided to frame it with friendly faces voicing a sobering message, striking the right tone with a light touch. He linked up with his Chinese friends to say their names clearly and calmly on camera. Each and everyone explains with dignity and pride, who gave them their names, and how much that means to them.

#SayMyName video produced by HuHe Yan  went viral.

414,000 people saw it on You Tube, Facebook, and they keep sharing and adding their own thoughts.

What I find most impressive is the intellectual, emotional and creative savvy with which HuHe flips the ugly side of rage on its head, inviting his audience to understand them better.

He tempers his rage with a message blending history with harmony, offering hope and humor. He breaks his silence, and he builds a bridge for us to meet each other half way.

Here’s another bit of his cleverly crafted paragraph to end his commentary in the Columbia Spectator Daily.

“A famous piece of ancient Chinese wisdom states “得寸进尺”: If you concede an inch, they’ll take a foot. I now reclaim my inch and speak louder than ever to ask that you first say my name, 闫呼和 (yán hū hé). In the spirit of coming to harmonious terms with the incidents, I’d like to think that those who took our name tags only did so to learn our names by heart. I apologize once more for not having put up a pinyin-spelled name tag on my door earlier. I now have prepared plenty. Feel free to take one.” 

 

Mable, New York

Mable Chan

Mable Chan is the founder of China Personified. Her contact is mablechan@chinapersonified.com.

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