Chris Denson recently interviewed me for his “Work in Progress” video series, where I shared some perspective and experiences with Asian hate. You can read and watch the full interview about Asian hate here.

One experience recounted during our discussion remains a particularly vivid memory. As my daughter and I strolled together, quietly chatting, a white male shouted at us, “Take your f-ing kung flu back where you came from!” Then, when I responded to him in English and he realized we were American, he replied, “Oh, you’re one of us. OK, you’re cool.”

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Seattle | Laini at Beach

Now, my visceral reaction will always be to protect this precious girl, and that day, my instinct screamed to quickly get her far away from that dangerously ignorant man. Yet, in the moment, I also needed to consider how we might extract maximum value from this opportunity. So we continued the dialogue… not because I really thought I could change the stranger’s perspective. But because I realized that this was a teachable moment for Laini. She could witness a calm reaction to blurted-out ignorance. She might understand that we can stand firm in an open, loving way.

Life won’t always be easy and it definitely won’t be fair. But whether at home with our kids or at work with the people we care for, I believe it’s our job to gently correct, to role model love in action. If we can create a real sense of belonging – we create a space of psychological safety, where people can sit comfortably together in silence…

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Laini reflective

Or joyfully strike a sassy pose… dancing like no one’s watching.

Emily Chang | The Spare Room | Laini night market