Actor Daniel Dae Kim appeared before Congress Thursday and didn’t hold back in criticizing GOP lawmakers for failing to back a resolution condemning anti-Asian action across the country.
“Hawaii 5-0” and “Lost” star Kim testified in September 2020 at the time the resolution was being debated (it eventually passed, though with no Republican votes). Speaking before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday via a video call, Kim said he was “both honored and dismayed” to be addressing lawmakers again.
“Some of you may remember I that I was with you just this past September discussing the importance of diversity in American media,” he said, referencing HR-908. “I was disheartened to find that for a bill that required no money or resources, just a simple condemnation of acts of hate against people of Asian descent, 164 members of Congress–all Republican–voted against it.”
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Kim very pointedly said he didn’t think he would be able to change Republican lawmakers’ minds in just one hearing, and instead turned his focus to Democratic politicians who he felt were more likely to support his cause.
“I’m not naive enough to think that I’m going to convince all of you to stand up for us — trust me, I’ve seen your voting records. But I am speaking to those to whom humanity still matters,” Kim said. “There are moments in a country’s history that chart its course indelibly for the future. For Asian Americans, that moment is now. What happens right now and over the course of the coming months will send a message for generations to come as to whether we matter.”
Kim also pointed out that while the Asian American community in the United States is currently one of the most targeted for hate crimes, it is also a strong and rapidly growing group. He also recalled a conversation he had with a polling pundit during the 2020 election who told him Asian Americans were “statistically insignificant.”
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“We matter,” Kim continued, “whether the country we call home chooses to erase us or include us, dismiss us or respect us, invisibilize us or see us. Because you may consider us statistically insignificant now, but one more fact that has no alternative is that we are the fastest-growing racial demographic in the country. We are 23 million strong, we are united, and we are waking up.”
Kim also mentioned the pandemic, which has fueled a rise in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes, largely because of former President Trump’s administration’s penchant for calling the coronavirus the “China virus” and blaming it on Asian countries. In fact, Trump called into Fox News and referred to the virus as the “China virus” again the same evening the shootings in Atlanta took place.
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“Statistically insignificant literally means we don’t matter,” Kim added. “We as Asian Americans have come to this country because we believe in the American dream. Many of us have succeeded. And some of us are even the frontline healthcare workers upon whom we’ve all come to depend during this terrible pandemic.”
Other Asian American celebrities have spoken out against the rise in violence against other members of their community and the incident in Georgia this week — including George Takei, actress Olivia Munn, “The Office” writer and actress Mindy Kaling, and “Crazy Rich Asians” stars Henry Golding and Gemma Chan.