Sam Hing, 20’s
Jersey City, NJ
Current Role: Law Student
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
When and how did your family come to the United States? Where were you born?
My mother came to the U.S, one week before Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge because my maternal grandfather at the time worked for the U.S. Embassy. My father came as a refugee after surviving through the labor camps by escaping through the Thai border much later. They both met in Oakland before moving down to Long Beach, CA and having me and my younger sister!
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
One of the strengths of being Asian-American is the small acts of love. When I reference actions of love, I think of whenever my mom asks me whether I've eaten, if she needs to cook something for me, and if she should send me reminders of home when I'm far away. Too long have Asian-Americans been portrayed as cold, calculating Tiger parents in the media when there is so much love that is so much more subtler and deeper than non-Asian people are willing to acknowledge. I want to acknowledge the small acts of love that may not seem apparent but really shape the way Asian-Americans give and receive love to those around them. It has certainly affected the way that I express love.
A big challenge is the way Asian-Americans are used as a wedge for white supremacy. Because of the intentional ways certain Asian groups were brought to the States, the model minority myth has in some ways eaten away at solidarity in the struggle with Black and Brown folx. A lot of Asian-Americans have bought into this and strive for whiteness and white proximity. But, at the same time, we see so many groups within the Southeast Asian community that don't benefit the way that maybe East Asians do and thus, resources and care aren't being given to those whose liberation is ultimately linked to Black liberation.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Getting into college and subsequently graduating. While I believe there are faults in access to higher education, I credit this accomplishment for something I wanted to do for myself and my family. More recently, getting into law school has been a big accomplishment. It took me 2 years to grapple with the idea and then an additional 2 years to prepare, so starting my program orientation feels like an accumulation of the work that I've done for myself thus far.
What is one thing you learned or appreciate from your family growing up?
I had a loving mother who gave unwavering support to what I wanted to pursue. We didn't always see eye to eye but she eventually would believe in me and the choices I made.
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
Yes. I was fortunate that I spent my early years with my maternal grandparents to the point where Khmer was actually my first language, despite being born in the US. I started only learning English around 1st grade. I've retained basic conversational skills and my pronunciation isn't too bad. I was also lucky enough to live in Long Beach where we had a teacher who taught Khmer at my high school and thus, I learned how to read and write Khmer during all four years of high school. I can still read pretty well, though I don't take part in too much writing nowadays.
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
Take the time to uncover systems and structures. Learn your privileges and oppression. Decolonize what you know, your history, and the way you view the world. Develop and learn empathy and critical thinking so that you can continue to learn and unlearn.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
I've been blessed with an able body that I've used to explore different kinds of sports. While I default to power lifting, I've had the privilege to explore different sports like figure skating, olympic weight lifting, volleyball, track & field, and rock climbing.
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
I've started a fun and silly podcast with my husband as a way to record our banter, reflect on our relationship, and offer thoughtful advice: Two Bacons in Love.
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
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