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Letter to the Editor: I lost, but we won

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To the Editor, 

I have just lost the campaign for the District 4 seat of the Williamson County School Board. But we won. It is because we will have another qualified, decent and sophisticated WCS board member to serve our students. Josh Brown shows a great deal of commitment in the community by putting his professional career and his personal life on the line, which I nor other candidates did not have to and would not. For that, Josh has my respect and best wishes.  

I lost, but we won, because we are heard and seen.  

We are hundreds of Chinese Americans families in Williamson County. It is probably the first time for many commissioners to receive emails from us and hear our voices. We Asian Americans are 4% of residents in Williamson County but 20% of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists for WCS. We are also the students in the ESL program, special needs program, on soccer fields, in swimming pools, as well as weekend in-school detention. 

We Asian Americans are the families who share all the challenges for families with teenagers, then some. For example, compared to other ethnic groups, Asian Americans have the lowest admission rate by elite universities for the same level academic percentile. In other words, Asian American students have to achieve higher scores in order to be treated equally.  

We are immigrants who seek a brighter future for our children by overcoming unfathomable challenges and by making tremendous sacrifices, who have profound appreciation of education because education is our token of admission to America and who are, statistically, best at keeping families together for the sake of our children.     

I lost, but we won, because Williamson County gets to move forward. 

We are the new southerners. We are still committed in faith, in family and in neighborly love, but we become worldly, diverse and empathetic. We still talk funny, but we speak with more and different accents. We still take pride in always living within a 30-mile radius for generations, but also in our children who are intimately connected with the rest of the world and its rich diversity.  

We are investors in our children’s education and, therefore, the future of our nation. Williamson County is the top 1% county in the country, but WCS funding is among the bottom 10% of the country. We no longer celebrate mediocrity as the result of narrow perspective, and we want WCS to be more than just one of the best in Tennessee. The academic programs, smaller sports teams, debating teams, science competition, math clubs, STEM and the marginalized student groups must be funded, and our children deserve to get on the national stage and make changes.  

From the beginning, I knew no one with a two-letter last name would win a campaign here anytime soon. I ran mostly to prove a point to my teenage son, which middle-aged-van-driving fathers love nothing more. He was born in late October 2008, a month early and with complications. He stayed in NICU for his first week of life. Two days after he was discharged from NICU, we took him on an overnight road trip for our citizenship interview. It was a difficult trip for two new parents and a sick baby, but we did not want to reschedule the interview because it was too important. Our interview happened to be on Election Day in 2008. That night on our way back from Memphis, NPR announced that we had a new president. Hearing that, I turned to my crumpled preemie boy, said to him, “Now, this country is yours, too.” Today, though I have just lost my own campaign, I get to prove to my child that I couldn’t be more right that night.  

Seth Yu 


(1) comment

One of the normals

Mr Yu, thank you for the thoughtful letter. I was shocked to learn that Asians have to score higher than other ethnicities on admissions tests in order to get accepted to prestigious universities. That sounds like discrimination to me. I wonder who came up with that whole idea and why? And how come it is tolerated in the US? Is there anything we can do on the local level to help our Asian American allies and stop this unfair practice?

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