With the spotlight turned to anti-Asian hate and violence, New Jersey’s U.S. Rep. Andy Kim spoke out about his experiences with bias over Twitter this weekend.
Kim, a Democrat who represents New Jersey’s 3rd District, used Twitter to retell a story of how he faced anti-Asian bias from the U.S. government — and how he plans to fix it, now that he is on the Foreign Affairs committee.
The tweet, which was posted at around noon Saturday, had more than 24,000 likes and 6,000 retweets in less than 24 hours.
I’ll never forget the feeling when I learned that my own government questioned my loyalty. Before Congress I worked in diplomacy at StateDept. I once received a letter banning me from working on Korea issues just because of my last name. I was stunned. (THREAD) #StopAsianHate pic.twitter.com/KADZ0UKjGg
— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) March 20, 2021
Here’s a look at his 13-post Twitter thread, which has been updated to include grammar clarifications and spell out some abbreviations.
1/13: “I’ll never forget the feeling when I learned that my own government questioned my loyalty. Before Congress I worked in diplomacy at State Department. I once received a letter banning me from working on Korea issues just because of my last name. I was stunned.
2/13: “I had previously worked in Afghanistan for the State Department. I had a top-secret security clearance. But here was a letter saying, ‘We don’t trust you.’ What confused me more is that I didn’t even apply to work on Korea. The State Department was proactively telling me they didn’t trust me.
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3/13: “And it wasn’t just me. I learned that other Asian Americans at State had same thing happen. It was called ‘assignment restrictions’ — a bureaucratic way of saying, ‘failing the loyalty test.’
4/13: “I thought to myself about how I was born here, in America. I don’t even speak Korean well at all. I have relatives in South Korea, but I barely know them. I kept asking, ‘Why did my government not trust me?’
5/13: “I understand security concerns all over the world. I understand that I share a last name with a brutal dictator. That’s why I endured grueling clearance processes multiple times. But once I received a Top Secret clearance, why this letter?
6/13: “I raised my concerns about this letter to more senior people at State and was advised by several to not make a fuss about it since I wasn’t actually interested in working on Korea. They missed the point. I wasn’t thinking of my career path, I was thinking of respect.
7/13: “I started to feel like maybe I didn’t have a place in government. I started to think about quitting. Everyone keeps saying our diversity is our strength. That letter from the State Department said otherwise. How do I do foreign policy if my own government treats me like I’m foreign?
8/13: “The State Department and our government as a whole needs to confront the lack of diversity in its ranks. We need a government that looks a lot more like the rest of America. And State is meant to be a place where we show rest of the world our diversity.
9/13: “And now, in the aftermath of the brutal mass murder in Atlanta, we — as a nation — must confront the xenophobia, discrimination that (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) experience. I wanted to show as we turn to government right now to fix these problems, that government itself has problems we must fix.
10/13: “President (Joe) Biden and Vice President (Kamala) Harris went to Atlanta (on Friday) to shine a light on the rise in AAPI hate. Now they have an opportunity to make sure the 20 positions at the Department of Justice are reflective of the country they keep safe. More than 100 open positions at the State Department.
11/13: “This and next year will see elections at all levels of government; we should lift up AAPI and other minority voices by encouraging our community to register, vote and run. To hold those in power accountable for their words.
12/13: “In 2018, I stepped up to run for Congress. Many people told me I had no chance to win this seat because it is over 80% white with less than 3% Asian. But I won’t let others define what I am or am not capable of accomplishing and what jobs I am allowed to do for my country.
13/13: “In 2019, I was sworn-in as the then only Korean American in Congress. Now I sit on Foreign Affairs Committee with oversight over the State Department. I will demand that we fix this problem, working with Ted Lieu and others. And we will press for more fixes across our government and nation.”