Building Pathways Through Discomfort: Nurturing Allyship in the Asian American Community


This piece was published in the 31st print volume of the Asian American Policy Review.

Though we have expanded access to rights over the last several decades, the fact remains that discomfort—whether driven by outright animus or inadvertent, implicit biases—is at the foundation of the US’s social and political institutions; institutions that were designed from the start to prevent “others” from accessing basic human rights.

2016 to Present: The Culmination of Our History With Discomfort

 After a year of polls predicting a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton, late in the evening of 8 November 2016, Donald Trump was declared the 45th president of the United States. People were shocked by the degree to which the outcome diverged from the polls—but I was not. I had spent the last year wading into fetid comments sections and asking people—within and outside of my circles—about their take on the candidates and the issues. What I learned from my inquiries is that while polls are designed to capture public opinions, they cannot illuminate the complex beliefs behind opinions that would nonetheless inform how or whether people voted. The polls did not register the “discomfort”—defined here as feelings of ambivalence about individuals, groups, and/or situations, driven by blatant or latent biases—that I noticed in others’ stories, and therefore cannot illuminate the unpredictable ways that discomfort interacts with identity and self-interest to produce surprising voting patterns.

Pre-election, think pieces picking apart the presumed monolithic interests of different ethnic and class voting blocs proliferated. Post-election, many were devoted to analyzing the white working class and how they swung the 2016 election in Trump’s favor—abetted by a political terrain engineered by US Congressional Republicans over the past decade via gerrymandering, voter suppression policies, and the obstruction of then-President Obama’s efforts to fill over 100 lifelong federal judgeships (including one Supreme Court seat).1 Few of them interrogated the complex inter- and intragroup dynamics that may have contributed to the surprising percentage of Asian American (27 percent), Latinx (28 percent), and educated (36 percent) voters voting for Trump.2 While these figures are somewhat consistent with—if not an improvement on—the proportion of voters within these blocs that voted Republican in previous decades, many people were still surprised that anyone would vote for someone so brazenly xenophobic and ill-equipped to lead.3 Four years later, more than 74 million people would vote to give Trump a second term—if not in enthusiastic support, then at least in passive condonation of his agenda.4 the days after the elections, baffled people in my circles kept asking different versions of the same question about those who voted for Trump despite their disapproval of his open affiliation with white supremacists and advocacy of policies that would endanger the rights and lives of others: “How could they be so selfish?

But, I ask: “Why were you so surprised?” Evolutionary psychologists reason that the “vigilance”—heightened suspicion—that communities exercise when encountering “outgroups” can explain intergroup tensions. During first encounters, communities use “vigilance” to gauge whether “others” are a boon or threat to their survival.5 But after the haze of the first encounter has dissipated, whom do we trust? Whom do we empathize with? And why? We are centuries into the democratic experiment in the US, and that many of us refuse to examine the discomfort that remains within our society betrays something more than just an evolutionary drive for self-preservation. Consider how we have historically used our discomfort with perceived differences to create outgroups—“others”—and to grant people unequal access to rights based on those differences. Though we have expanded access to rights over the last several decades, the fact remains that discomfort—whether driven by outright animus or inadvertent, implicit biases—is at the foundation of the US’s social and political institutions; institutions that were designed from the start to prevent “others” from accessing basic human rights.

 Within the last few years, dog whistling has given way to our neighbors and elected representatives unabashedly “saying the quiet part out loud.” White supremacy has risen from its simmering dormancy in the socio-political underground to become a raging presence in the streets—driven by a 55 percent rise in white nationalist hate groups since 2017.6 Neo-Nazis stormed the US Capitol to overturn the results of an election that they failed to win despite the new and age-old means that were used to “rig” it in their favor.7 But while Neo-Nazis might be the obvious adversaries to justice and equity, another less calculated but arguably just as crippling challenger lies closer to home: the bystanders within our communities who act—or abstain from acting—in service of their own interests without considering the far-reaching consequences on other communities.

Over decades, the positions (or lack of one) that some within the Asian American community have taken on issues and developments of importance to communities of color—including affirmative action, immigration reform, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter—have cemented our status as bystanders at best and a “wedge” at worst. Our community is generally disinclined to having honest conversations about why some feel, at the very least, ambivalence about certain issues. But bending the arc of our society toward justice requires allies—and the bystanders among them—to contemplate and act on this question: “What can and should we do with others’—and our—discomfort?”

(Hi)stories: A Starting Point for Allyship

In some ways, I could not have developed the habits required for allyship without my exposure to the diverse communities in California. I was born to Chinese American immigrants and raised in a rural, uber-conservative, majority White, low-income community on the fringes of the Mojave Desert. There, I negotiated the cognitive dissonance of claiming that I was “left-leaning” but “not into politics”; of wanting to signal to others that I did not share the values of my community but remaining passive in my convictions. I knew that hunger, homelessness, and people lacking the resources necessary to be safe and healthy required intervention but had only ever witnessed the normalization of these injustices by the Asian American community and, consequently, felt powerless to change these realities. Any discomfort arising from encounters with injustice were brushed off with antithetical platitudes about unfairness being part of the natural order of things and people reaping what they sow; or silence.

After leaving the desert for college, I realized that the “natural order of things” was a false story that we have been told; a smokescreen to obscure the fact that the “natural order” is a product of choices—to accept inequities as given and to dismiss the possibility of anything more. But this was only possible after spending years acclimating to different communities for school and work, encountering and then coming to know others and the world in ways that I could not have known had I stayed in the desert. Many people take it for granted that everyone has the privilege of mobility beyond their immediate communities. However, opportunities for exposure to others’ stories are afforded to people as much by privilege as by chance.8

Over the past several decades, our communities have become increasingly segregated along partisan and cultural fault lines—resulting in pockets of rural and urban communities with their own insular social and political identities.9 Despite living in an increasingly hyperconnected world, people tend to affiliate primarily with those within their immediate communities—a practice extending even to virtual spaces.10 Our echo chambers are fortified by the stories of those that we identify with most closely—sealing out the stories of even the nearest strangers. If we take nothing else away from the “fake news” era, it should be that stories matter.

After a presidency ushered in and fortified by “alternative facts”, people—from the pundits to our neighbors—asked: “Are we living in a post-fact world?11 Many of us know of or have personally encountered people who give more credence to anecdotes about the dangers of vaccines than to the large body of clinical science rejecting accusations of such dangers. We bristle with indignation, anger even, at their refusal to “look at the facts.” “Why would you believe one story from So-and-So from work over all this independent data?”we ask. But we forget that stories, whether they are rigorously fact-checked or irresponsibly decontextualized, can be data, too—deeply charismatic qualitative data. In a way, stories were the first kind of data that we had access to as a species after we began developing language. Many cultures have long used stories to teach people about civic duty, history, science, and to remind people of where they come from and who they are expected to become. While this seems archaic in our industrial public education complex, there is some wisdom in recognizing stories as a teaching tool for the modern age—since they clearly resonate with people who might otherwise “ignore the (quantitative) data.”

My exposure to others—and their stories—taught me that power is situational. Ethically navigating its confusing ebbs and flows requires interrogating your relationships with others—in particular, the interpersonal dynamics and the larger socio-political forces that shape those relationships and, consequently, the contours of the communities in which we all live. Recognizing the nature of “power” has allowed me to unpack memories of discomfort and deconstruct new encounters with more clarity and accountability:

. . . I am around five years old. I am with my mother and aunt running errands, and we pause in the parking lot where they become distracted in conversation. I walk toward a ragged homeless man sitting outside a storefront several yards away. He slowly raises the disposable cup in his hand to me. My mother and aunt pull me away suddenly, clucking in disapproval, and rush to the car. I am confused by their reaction to this defeated looking stranger. At the time, I wonder whether they are so mean because he is dirty, has no money, or is Black. The fact that I articulated the last reason for their reaction at that age is revealing.

. . . I am part of an Asian American majority for the first time as an undergraduate student, and struggle to transition from my conservative rural hometown to one of the wealthiest liberal urban centers in the US For the first time, I see aspects of my physical self in many of my peers, but still feel distinctly disconnected from them. I cannot relate to their casual grievances about being inundated with “enrichment” activities as children/adolescents. I clumsily decipher other class-related social cues around food, pop culture, and “taste” that they exchange with dexterity.

. . . I am in a class lecture where a professor claims that it may be possible to reconcile the need to address racial inequities with opposition to affirmative action by using socioeconomic status as a proxy for race. At the time, it seems reasonable to me since the research confirms such a strong correlation between class and race. However, I don’t quite understand the rejection of this proposal by some of my peers (and would not for some time).

. . . I am co-facilitating a participatory policy seminar at an at-risk youth center that serves mostly Black and Brown youth during grad school. They share with us the problems in their communities that are most important to them, and we teach them ways to integrate research into their advocacy efforts. Engaging with these young people in this way is how I believe policy research and advocacy needs to be undertaken, but I still wonder what right I—and my other White and Asian American co-facilitators—have to be “leading” this seminar.

I often revisit these encounters armed with new information (e.g., the epigenetics of intergenerational trauma) that allows me to register previously overlooked details and draw from them more nuanced conclusions. None of us are “done” with our encounters after we have lived through them. They become stories we tell ourselves; touchstones we use to form our personalities and worldviews. As my stories accumulated, I felt increasingly alienated from the Asian American community. It became clearer to me the ways in which their “keep your head down and protect your own” mentality contributes to the policy problems that occupy my time, and to the inequities afflicting communities. I was disappointed in their passive refusal to look beyond their fear of losing their slice of the political and economic pie, or to question the costs to others of the slice they first came to possess.

At the same time, I understand how our diverse political and cultural heritages impact our ability and willingness to engage with injustice. We cannot ignore that some members of the South and Southeast Asian American community face systemic challenges similar to other Black and Brown communities. At the same time, how Asian Americans manage their relationships with others varies widely between subgroups, and the sources of those differences may illuminate why some of us fail to act on others’ and our own behalf in the face of injustice. Many of us come from shame-based, “face saving” cultures in which the admission of struggle is an admission of personal failure.

Previous generations that lived through the Cultural Revolution in China or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia survived harsh government-inflicted political and cultural conditioning meant to ensure unconditional subservience to their authoritarian governments — which conspired to systematically dismantle any personal allegiances that could foster a sense of self not solely invested in propping up the regime.12 The legacy that remains is an unquestioning deference to the institutions that governments use to regulate our lives and a self-preserving disinterest toward how they are designed or what role they might play in our struggles. Individuals from these communities have undergone tremendous trauma that they were never allowed to acknowledge in the past and are possibly unable—or unwilling—to recognize in the present. Their inability—or refusal—to acknowledge trauma may limit their ability—or willingness—to recognize the traumas and injustices that groups outside of their communities have experienced. While some within our ranks knowingly disengage with injustice because they can afford to ignore it, it is crucial to understand how our community processes their traumas, because engaging with discomfort requires us to be able and willing to confront trauma both in ourselves and others.

“Wuhan Flu” & “I Can’t Breathe”: A Difference in Degree But Not in Kind

Just over 10 weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, abetted by three other officers; the latest name on a long scroll of lives snuffed out by police brutality. I was jolted from the months-long stupor of lockdown by the sense that a fissure in our collective consciousness had finally cracked like a dam splitting open; the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew the response to George Floyd would be different from the responses to the others that fell before him. Soon after, I watched news feeds flood with images of protesters braving the streets during a pandemic as a bone-deep frustration with the perpetual silence that came in answer to questions that people had been asking for decades set in: “Why don’t you understand? How do I get you to care?

Many of us have asked these questions of ardent non-mask wearers during the pandemic. Was it thinkable four years ago that wearing a mask would become a “political” issue? In some ways, the pageantry of non-mask wearing is a visual accomplice to the dog whistle rhetoric surrounding COVID-19. Both convey and mask—so to speak—the discomfort that a largely conservative base of non-mask wearers feel in response to reminders of their collective responsibility to a community of “others” during the pandemic. A thorough audit of our history—revealing the degree to which we have failed to meet our collective responsibilities toward others—can make us feel like villains, and most people would rather be the hero of their own stories. So, they sublimate the discomfort driving their choices and “preferences” by rewriting history (e.g. the Civil War and opposition to the Civil Rights Movement were about “states’ rights”) and through rhetorical gymnastics (e.g. staying maskless in public is exercising “freedom”)—effectively denying their sometimes villainous role in other communities’ (hi)stories.13

People can be more than one thing—an empowering but also destabilizing truth. Many of us assume that people who have been denied their rights and their humanity will remember their history and not go on—actively or passively—to deny the rights and the humanity of others. But the oppressed can also oppress. Asian Americans—who endured immigration laws throughout the late-19th and early-20th centuries designed to prevent them from “taking” opportunities reserved for “real Americans,” lynchings (including a mass lynching in 1871 that killed up to 20 people), and imprisonment in concentration camps during World War II—still refuse to reflect on practices and policies that have and continue to threaten the rights and humanity of other groups of color.14

Long before COVID-19, Asian and Asian American communities had adopted the use of masks as a public health practice during times of illness. But, as the Centers for Disease Control waffled between alternating recommendations in the early months of the pandemic, I put off wearing a mask for as long as possible.15 I made a gamble that maskless exposure to COVID-19 would pose less of a danger to my safety than wearing a mask, which could expose me to harassment or assault. A mask would mark me as “other” in a world that has been more primed than ever in the last few years to mark, ostracize, and punish the “other.” More than 2,100 anti-Asian American hate incidents related to COVID-19 were reported across the country over a three-month period between March and June alone.16 This spike was no doubt facilitated by the Trump administration’s relentless peddling of the “Kung flu” narrative—shamelessly capitalizing on a global health crisis to weaponize both the unambiguous animosity of bigots, and the unarticulated biases of latent bigotry, in service of his reelection campaign.17 Discomfort lies on a spectrum that starts with unarticulated bias and ends with outright violence.

COVID-19 has become a symbol for the inequities of the US healthcare system but also of our systems in general, given how it has compounded (and thrown into even sharper relief) the burdens that communities of color already face. Black Americans, who have long faced insurmountable barriers to medical care, are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of White Americans.18 In May, the Navajo Nation had a higher per capita COVID-19 death rate than any state in the US—a problem exacerbated, like in many Native communities, by generations-long water shortages that have left up to 40 percent of Native households without access to piped water in their homes.19 Unemployment rates during the height of lockdowns in late May/early June were the highest among Latino and Black Americans—who now also occupy the epicenter of a looming nationwide eviction crisis due to a long history of discriminatory housing and lending practices that have burdened them with debilitating housing costs and generational housing instability.20

Long before the day Derek Chauvin pressed his knee onto his neck, George Floyd’s life expectancy had already been whittled away by risk factors—lack of stable housing, educational and employment opportunities, and access to healthcare. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19 two months before his death.21 But, arguably, George Floyd’s death had another proximate cause—discomfort. George Floyd fell victim to a society that has never honestly questioned its discomfort with Black America (and Americans of color generally); discomfort animating their choices—and support of choices—to extract human and other capital from Black and Brown communities while preventing necessary resources from being invested in those same communities. Let there be no confusion—the discomfort that factored into George Floyd’s death and the discomfort stoking COVID-related xenophobia against Asians and Asian Americans hail from the same place. Allies must recognize that dismissing racism inflicted upon any one group enables racism against all other groups.

Unwedging Ourselves

Successfully navigating our multicultural society requires developing a literacy around others’ needs, fears, and preferences. Politically disempowered social groups have used this literacy to assimilate into a political and social “mainstream” that has been largely determined by more powerful groups. Arguably, this literacy is a byproduct of “double consciousness.” People experience double consciousness as a kind of “fracturing” of the self—always seeing oneself simultaneously through one’s own as well as others’ eyes. Some might assert that double consciousness is evidence of a society that has never meaningfully accepted or made space for difference. Even so, it may be possible to harness habits of cognition from double consciousness to work through our own and others’ discomfort, and to establish pipelines to others’ stories so we can better situate ourselves in their histories and empathize with their present realities.

My experiences with discomfort are mostly productive. Each engagement constitutes a kind of fracturing—double consciousness doubled ad infinitum—as I become acquainted with the different facets of my “self” refracted from the perspectives of others. Contrary to misgivings about dissolving into a soup of dissonant fragments under the strain of constant self-interrogation, I have emerged a more fully-realized person with a fuller understanding of the inescapable mutuality of living—how my circumstances inform and are informed by the lives and circumstances of others.

We are all “others” to each other in the beginning. Coming to truly know other people is an experience that can often start with discomfort—with yourself, with the situation, or with both. Striving to achieve a more uncomplicated sense of self will not bring forth solidarity, given that it may in fact obstruct the honesty required for meaningful allyship. The absence of tension does not constitute the presence of justice. Perhaps, only by accepting the sense of internal dissonance that comes from engaging with discomfort as a natural state of living in a diverse society can we make space for opportunities to reckon with the factors that have shaped our shared and divergent histories and present realities, and to become more empathetic neighbors and more effective allies.

In the hopes of creating space for people to engage with their discomfort, I am bringing to the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center a community-building conversations series called Building Pathways to Understanding. The series aims to encourage people to unpack the beliefs and values that drive how we build our communities and to examine the stories we tell ourselves about the way society “has to be.”

Effective public policies identify how to optimally distribute resources to serve the welfare of the various communities that make up our society—with attention to how our political institutions shape and can be shaped by the distribution. That we design policy without knowing the stories of those whom the policies are meant to serve seems ridiculous. But every day, people, voters, and decision-makers decide who will get what, when, how, and why for people they do not know or fully understand. Fundamentally, allyship requires us to acknowledge the unflattering, inconvenient, and discomforting truths about our roles in shaping past and present policies and their disparate impacts on specific, often vulnerable communities. This cannot be done without first examining our discomfort and the underlying biases that inform it.

Civic education is not built into the US public education system in any meaningful way, and our institutions lack sufficient scaffolding to afford our diverse communities’ real agency in decision-making processes. We expect our institutions’ leaders to prioritize engagement with the communities that they are meant to serve, even though they often have not, cannot, or in some cases will not do so. This responsibility has thus fallen on us as neighbors, voters, and decision-makers. Building Pathways intends to provide opportunities for people to talk about policy issues in an accessible way so that their decision making—as would-be allies embedded in civic organizations, businesses, government agencies, and other institutions—is informed by self-awareness about the power they wield and comprehension of their role in others’ hi(stories).

Meet Your Discomfort

Let this be clear—pointing out how the unexamined discomfort within communities of color and their would-be allies contributes to the severe inequities within our communities is not an absolution of the leading role that white supremacy plays in engineering those inequities. However, it does ask us to question the proximity of our nebulous discomfort to the defined ideologies and practices at the heart of white supremacy—which does not belong only to white supremacists. Foremost, white supremacy is an ideology, founded upon colorism and nationalism, that has impacted the design of all social and political systems worldwide.

“Ally” is not a special category of person belonging only to those formally involved in social movements. Allyship, in its obvious forms, can involve showing up in the streets or using your platforms to amplify voices that need to be heard. But it is also refusing to look away from situations that are unjust; refusing to psychologically and politically isolate yourself from your discomfort with it, even when the circumstances of your life allow you to do so. At minimum, allyship requires you to pay attention and listen; to make the effort to really see the “other”; to have the humanity to recognize that which is similar to you in others, the humility to acknowledge that which is different, and —especially—the courage to ask why and how those similarities and/or differences came to be. Being an ally is utilizing the power you have in your capacity as a decision-maker, voter, and/or neighbor to support equity in both decision-making processes and outcomes — which requires us to look beyond our day-to-day decisions to the individual and institutional power dynamics that shape the terrain on which we act. This kind of self-awareness and accountability are not possible if we avoid engaging with our discomfort.

The discomfort of some groups has always mattered much more than others in the decision-making processes shaping our institutions—3 November 2016 made that undeniably clear. As 20 January 2017 drew near, I renewed a commitment that I had made to myself in the previous decade: I would never look away from the carnage. I would work through the conflicts and misunderstandings that might arise from engaging with my discomfort, and try to move others to do the same. I discourage you from seeking comfort—definitive resolutions to your questions and crises of conscience. Life will always bring us to new people, places, and/or concepts that will trigger the discomfort that comes with first encounters and learning to acclimate ourselves to new information, environments, and dynamics — and we must cultivate our gardens. Elie Wiesel wrote—“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference [. . .] And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”—words from a complex person who exemplifies that people can be simultaneously victims, heroes, and victimizers. I posit that the opposite of discomfort is also indifference, and that in some circumstances, the pursuit of comfort is the pursuit of a kind of indifference. I sit with my discomfort and invite you to sit awhile with yours.

Melody Ng is a policy analyst bringing to the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center a new community dialogues series, Building Pathways to Understanding. She has previously worked with organizations to research, plan, and implement programs and policies addressing issues ranging from criminal legal reform, youth services, and environmental justice. She has a longstanding interest in integrating more rigorous equity analysis and community-informed research into policy and program planning. She received her MPP degree from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.


1 Alex Tausanovitch and Danielle Root, “How Partisan Gerrymandering Limits Voting Rights,” Center for American Progress, 8 July 2020,; Russell Wheeler, “Senate obstructionism handed a raft of judicial vacancies to Trump—what has he done with them?” Brookings Institute, 4 June 2018,;Jon Greenberg, “Fact-check: Why Barack Obama failed to fill over 100 judgeships,” PolitiFact, The Poynter Institute, 2 October 2020,

2 Hansi Lo Wang, “Trump Lost More Of The Asian-American Vote Than The National Exit Polls Showed,” NPR, 18 April 2017, -exit-polls-showed.;

“An examination of the 2016 electorate, based on validated voters,” Pew Research Center, 9August 2018, ed-voters/.

3 Asma Khalid, “How Asian-American Voters Went From Republican To Democratic,” NPR, 16 September 2015,; Mark Hugo Lopez and Paul Taylor, “Latino Voters in the 2012 Election,” Pew Research Center, 7 November 2012,

4 Kate Sullivan and Jennifer Agiesta, “Biden’s popular vote margin over Trump tops 7 million,” CNN, 4 December 2020,

5 Martie G. Haselton, Daniel Nettle, and Damian R. Murray, “The Evolution of Cognitive Bias,” in The Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, ed. David M. Buss (John Wiley & Sons, Inc: 18 November 2015), 724–746.

6 “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2019,” Southern Poverty Law Center, 18 March 2020,

7 Jim Rutenberg and Nick Corasaniti, “Republicans Rewrite an Old Playbook on Disenfranchising Black Americans,” The New York Times, 22 November 2020,; Perry Bacon Jr., “Five Ways Trump And GOP Officials Are Undermining The Election Process,” FiveThirtyEight, 11 August 2020,;Matt DeRienzo, “Analysis: New and age-old voter suppression tactics at the heart of the 2020 power struggle,” The Center for Public Integrity, 28 October 2020,

8 Aaron Williams and Armand Emamdjomeh, “America is more diverse than ever — but still segregated,” The Washington Post, 2 May 2018,

9 Corey Lang and Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz, “Partisan sorting is a very recent phenomenon, and has been driven by the Southern realignment,” United States Politics and Policy, American Politics and Policy (blog), London School of Economics US Centre, 10 November 2015,; Xi Liu, Clio Andris, and Bruce A. Desmarais, “Migration and political polarization in the U.S.: An analysis of the county-level migration network,” PLoS ONE 14, no. 11 (November 2019),; Ian McDonald, “Migration and Sorting in the American Electorate: Evidence From the 2006 Cooperative Congressional Election Study,” American Politics Research 39, no. 3 (April 2011): 512-533,; Cameron Brick and Sander van der Linden, “How Identity, Not Issues, Explains the Partisan Divide,” Scientific American, 19 June 2018,

10 Kartik Hosanagar, “Blame the Echo Chamber on Facebook. But Blame Yourself, Too,” Wired, 25 November 2016,; Gregory Eady et al., “How Many People Live in Political Bubbles on Social Media? Evidence From Linked Survey and Twitter Data,” SAGE Open (January 2019),; Matteo Cinelli et al., “Echo Chambers on Social Media: A comparative analysis,” Physics and Society. ArXiv. (20 April 2020),

11 Matthew d’Ancona, “Ten alternative facts for the post truth world,” The Guardian, 12 May 2017,; Anne Applebaum, “Fact-checking in a ‘post-fact world’,” The Washington Post, 19 May 2016,

12 Tania Branigan, “China’s Cultural Revolution: portraits of accuser and accused,” The Guardian, 24 February 2012,; Tania Branigan, “China’s Cultural Revolution: son’s guilt over the mother he sent to her death,” The Guardian, 27 March 2013,; Dith Pran and Kim DePaul, Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).

13 James W. Loewen, “Five myths about why the South seceded,” The Washington Post, 26 February, 2011,; John Coski, “Myths & Misunderstandings: What Caused the Civil War,” The American Civil War Museum Blog, The American Civil War Museum, 24 July 2017,; Rick Perlstein, “Exclusive: Lee Atwater’s Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy,” The Nation, 13 November 2012,

14 Kelly Wallace, “Forgotten Los Angeles History: The Chinese Massacre of 1871,” Los Angeles Public Library Blog (blog), 19 May 2017,

15 Holly Yan, “Top health officials have changed their minds about face mask guidance — but for good reason,” CNN, 20 July 2020,

16 Erin Donaghue, “2,120 hate incidents against Asian Americans reported during coronavirus pandemic,” CBS News, 2 July 2020,

17 Kimmy Yan, “Trump can’t claim ‘Kung Flu’ doesn’t affect Asian Americans in this climate, experts say,” NBC News, 22 June 2020,

18 Scott Neuman, “COVID-19 Death Rate For Black Americans Twice That For Whites, New Report Says,” NPR, 13 August 2020, ck-americans-twice-that-for-whites-new-report-says.

19 Hollie Silverman et al.,, “Navajo Nation surpasses New York state for the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the US,” CNN, 18 May 2020,; Laurel Morales, “For Many Navajos, Getting Hooked Up To The Power Grid Can Be Life-Changing,” NPR, 29 May 2019,

20 “Unemployment rate during COVID-19 highest among Hispanic and Black Americans,” USAFacts, 2 June 2020, cans/.

21 Scott Neuman, “Medical Examiner’s Autopsy Reveals George Floyd Had Positive Test For Coronavirus,” NPR, 4 June 2020,