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‘Silence is death’: Texas lawmaker implores Asian-Americans to become more politically active

State Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, said Texas lawmakers must condemn violence against Asian-Americans.

DALLAS — State Representative Gene Wu, D-Houston, said he hopes that recent violence and racism against Asian-Americans will result in more political involvement by the minority group.

“This is a big problem for the Asian-American community, because a lot of the places that the Asian-Americans come from – a lot of their home countries, their home cultures – have this sort of pervasive ideology, pervasive philosophy of ‘Hey, you just need to keep quiet," said Rep. Wu on Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics.

Wu went further and shared some of his own personal experience to explain why Asian-Americans are not as politically active as other groups.

“In the West, you know we have a saying that goes ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease,’ right? You’ve got to speak up. In Asian countries, in my Chinese culture, we have a saying that says ‘The head that sticks up gets cut off,’” Wu explained on the television program. “That's a totally different perspective of like ‘Hey, you need to keep your mouth shut.'" 

That difference in attitude can make many Asians cautious about speaking out.

"My own parents did not want me to run for office, because it was making too many waves," he shared. "It put too much attention on me and on my family and they really didn't want me to run because we're supposed to be good Asians. We’re supposed to be the model minority.”

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The Houston Democrat also urged more Texas lawmakers to condemn hate and the recent violence against Asian-Americans.

“The problem is when you make fun of people, when you sort of dehumanize them, it makes them easier targets for people,” he said. “Because if somebody has been dehumanized, it makes it okay to go after them and that’s what people have done. The number of incidences around the nation have skyrocketed.”

Wu is one of only four members of the Texas legislature of Asian descent. If the population of Texas were accurately reflected in state government, that number would actually be twice as high, according to a recent report in the Texas Tribune.

RELATED: Texas ranks 4th in anti-Asian incidents; how to stop the hate

If Asian-Americans have learned anything recently, Wu said, it’s that staying quiet isn’t working.

“It does not protect you. Being the model minority does not protect you. Your number just didn't come up yet, and in 2020, our number came up,” Wu explained. “Just like the Jewish community, the Muslim community, the Black community, the Hispanic community, the LGBTQ community, we were targeted. Our number came up, and we were targeted for violence and we got it. I think a lot of our community finally understands that just being quiet does nothing for us. Silence is death.”

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