This Is Us

Shadows on pavement cast by a child and an adult holding hands as they walk.
Photo: AlexLinch/iStock/Getty Images Plus

I used to let my son, J, hit me in the face. I did not start out thinking, I will let my son hit me in the face. It was something that just happened.

Then, over time, it became “Oh, ‘that’ happened again,” reported to my husband. A few years…


Illustrator: Mark Wang

With the seemingly endless reel of anti-Asian violence appearing on the news, of which the horrific murders of six Asian American women was just one particularly horrible incident, one wonders, thinking of the endless press of racism starting with 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, how or if anti-Asian racism will ever…


An archival photo from the Korean War. Carrying her baby brother on her back, a war weary Korean girl walks by a stalled M-26 tank, at Haengju, Korea, June, 1951.
A Korean girl with her baby brother walks by a stalled M-26 tank in Haengju, Korea, 1951. Photo: RV Spencer/Interim Archives/Getty Images

“Fry ‘em out! Burn ‘em out! Cook ‘em!” You wouldn’t be faulted for guessing this dialogue is from a new cooking show. But it’s actually from the 1951 documentary, This Is Korea. Directed by distinguished filmmaker John Ford, the documentary was commissioned by the U.S. Navy to show off its…


Finding My Voice book cover against a red and bright pink patterned background.

One of the lesser-known heartaches of achieving your dream of publishing a book is that after all those years of sweat and tears, getting an agent, etc., you presume your book will be in the world maybe forever. But hundreds of books come out every month (in fact, 2018 had…


One clue: racism

woman and other commuters wearing masks on subway

President Trump has an Asia problem. As much as he would like to hold the United States out as the example of how to effectively handle the coronavirus, places such as South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan keep showing him up.

Take the press conference he…


The rhetoric around 2019-nCoV — the “Wuhan coronavirus” — plays on centuries-old racist sentiments against Asians

Image representation of the dominant public opinion that persistent presence of these three diseases Malarium, Small Pox, and Leprosy were all the fault of the Chinese immigrants and their unsanitary living conditions — the Wasp newspaper 26 May 1882 via Wiki Commons

Some day, I will draw up a visual flowchart to explain how epidemics are named for the public. Specifically, there is a logic employed by both the media and the scientific community, though neither speak it aloud. It starts with the question of where the virus originates: is it currently…


Illustration by Carmen Johns

For people who know my mother, they know she is an amazing trailblazer who established a center for Korean immigrants — and is also a somewhat difficult woman. …


This piece originally appeared in The Millions, December 2019

Every year is a great year for reading; 2019 was no exception.

One of my favorites this year was Helen Phillips’s The Needpart parenting book, part horror, part thriller, part literary fiction — actually none of these descriptors do…


This piece appeared originally in the Los Angeles Times in June 2019

From left to right: Russell French, Paola French and their son, Kenneth French, at Universal Studios. Kenneth, 32, was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a Corona Costco on June 14.

My 19-year-old son has the face of an angel, but he lacks the cognitive ability, if lost, to ask for directions home. I worry about him continually: How will he navigate the world? Where will he live? …


This essay first appeared in The Millions in September, 2019

prison cells

At my university, I once attended a dinner to help support first-generation students. This was a varied, singular group of students, undergraduates and grad students, who had overcome all sorts of challenges in order to land, and thrive, at Columbia.

marie myung-ok lee

Columbia faculty, Writer-in-Residence. Simon & Schuster author. Slate, Salon, NY Times, @Guardian, @TheAtlantic. Famous for being from Bob Dylan's hometown

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