In the wake of the murders of Vichar Ratanapakdee, Angelo Quinto and the mass shooting in Atlanta that took the lives of eight people including six Asian women, the world is coming to grasp with hate crimes against AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders).
Being Asian, this has been a part of my life and past emotional wounds have resurfaced.
My first experience of racism was at the age of 6, a few days after fall started. One afternoon, I was playing in my front yard, jumping into a pile of leaves I had amassed. I was stopped suddenly by shouting. A white girl, about the same age as me, was shouting “ching, chong.” She then made slanted eye gestures before running off.
I didn’t know what to think and wondered why she didn’t like me. What had I done wrong? Maybe I didn’t understand. After all, I was American, born and raised in Texas. After talking with my parents, they explained to me what I experienced was racism.
So growing up, I had a strong desire to belong. I thought if I just stayed positive, looking on the brighter side, everything would be all right. Like most of my Asian American friends, I worked hard to prove my worth and that I belong in this country. I realize now that was my default response to racism.
Early in my career, a thought crossed my mind about releasing my books under a pen name. Would my books sell under Mary Nhin? Would the Asian name be a turnoff? If you are a non-minority business owner, you probably never had to ask yourself those questions.
Today when I write, instead of skirting the issue, I say and point out exactly what racism looks like. My books have central themes: kindness, inclusion, diversity, empathy, mental toughness and, yes, even hard work. And they are all under my name – Mary Nhin.
Here are a few books by Asian authors I recommend for kids:
- Mixed by Arree Chung
- I Love My Grandpa by Katrina Liu
- Positive Ninja by Mary Nhin
- Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho