NEW YORK — New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim spoke about the struggles involved in discussing racism with his 5-year-old son after the boy faced anti-Asian bullying Saturday.
In a tweet thread, Kim — who represents parts of the Philadelphia suburbs and the Jersey Shore in Washington — revealed that his son had been repeatedly been called “Chinese boy” by a bigger child and wanted to know why.
Rep. Kim is the second Korean American elected to Congress in the country’s history.
“I was sad because my son shared what was likely his first ever experience of discrimination,” Kim wrote. “For me it wasn’t first time I heard bias about him. People told me he has cute slanty Chinese eyes or it’s great we teach him English as primary lang[uage] as if our default is foreigner.”
Kim said that reminded him of racism he faced growing up and even facing attacks from drunks who referred to him as the actor Jackie Chan.
Mostly, he struggled with not knowing what he could tell his son.
“I was sad because I know this won’t be his last time facing racism,” Kim wrote. “Other times will likely be worse and potentially violent. As a Congressman, I sadly know there is no law I can pass that will protect him fully.”
He revealed that his parents had never had a talk with him about racism, with his mother saying that she could never find the words.
She told him in a phone call that she would’ve told Kim he was special and to keep being himself, that he was never alone.
Kim concluded that he would speak with his son about it.
“I’m going to get ready to have that talk with my son. I’m a bit nervous. He’s such a sweet boy and I don’t know how he will take it.”
This comes amid a surge of anti-Asian bias incidents and hate crimes across the metropolitan area.
There have been at least 26 additional anti-Asian incidents this year, including 12 assaults, compared with eight at the same time last year, according to Deputy Inspector Jessica Corey, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
Residents and activists have shown support for Asian communities and those affected by the violence at demonstrations across the city as well as in New Jersey. On Saturday, rallies will take place in Lower Manhattan and Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The NYPD announced on Thursday it planned to increase outreach and patrols in Asian communities.
The department is sending undercover officers to neighborhoods with significant Asian populations in an attempt to prevent and disrupt attacks, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
The undercover officers are being trained and will be on patrol by the end of the weekend, Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.
The NYPD started an Asian Hate Crime Task Force last year amid increasing attacks as the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States.
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly used xenophobic terms to refer to the virus that originated in China’s Wuhan province. Critics say the former president’s language stoked violence against Asian Americans and immigrants.
To learn how to report bias crimes in New Jersey, visit the state’s “Identifying, Understanding and Reporting Bias” page.
PIX11 News’ Lauren Cook contributed to this report.