E! News: Hate against the AAPI community has risen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. How has that impacted you personally?
Michelle Kwan: Well, to see the uptick and the increase in violence towards AAPI communities, specifically towards our elders and towards women, has been horrific. Seeing an older woman being attacked unprovoked… I see these images and it just breaks my heart. I see these images and I see my aunt, I see my mom, I see my grandfather and it really hits home.
For me, I’m a kid of immigrants. My parents immigrated to the United States in their early 20’s. With my dad, it’s hard because culturally we do not openly share and talk about things that have impacted us. Being Chinese American, oftentimes it’s like keep your head down, just focus on what you have to do and keep quiet. My dad doesn’t really talk about it, but it’s like pulling these stories out of him. He said that when he first came to the United States, people would call out, ‘Hey Chinaman, go back to where you come from.’ I think of my father now; he’s been in the country many, many more decades longer than the time spent in China. And oftentimes people will ask him, ‘Where are you from? You speak English so well!’ It’s the stereotypes, right? And to me, it’s these stories and these conversations that need to be altered in some way.