GONZÁLEZ: Peter, thank you so much for being here with us and talking with me. I really appreciate it. Especially something that is still, you know, kind of hard to talk about. Where were you when you heard about the news of the murders in Georgia?

KWONG: I watch the news every day. You know, that's why I knew about it happening every night, you know, so that's kind of shocking news for any any community. Especially Asian community there lately because the increasing violence against the Asian community. Eldery especially in a highly populated area. So they were kind of, everybody heard that will be kind of scary to step out the house. That’s what happened.

GONZÁLEZ: Do you think the past year you've seen a change in how Asian Americans are talked about? I know we've talked a little bit about the president?

KWONG: Yeah, that's what happened here. Yeah, because the president keep using the term, you know, “Kung Fu virus,” “China virus.” This is ridiculous. Sometimes you gotta be careful what you select the word to say that in the public, that's why he's an agitator. He insurrect the whole group to kind of fight against the Chinese people. So they create the kind of mentality that people will have against the Chinese people. That's why they get that kind of mentality built into your mind. Especially the kids. They look at the elderly saying that is the picking, poking fun or joke in Chinese people. They say “Oh, you Chinese virus.” You know, “China virus,” that's why you know, they implant into people's mind, that's why the people go crazy, then what they go against, they go against the Chinese people. 

GONZÁLEZ: And so has that affected how you kind of go through your life here and in Rhode Island?

KWONG: Rhode Island, I don't see that happening because all the Chinese community here is kind of scattered. Because you got more pedestrian walk around the area you got more chance to get attacked, for that take a chance, advantage of those helpless individual. So usually, anything happened to them, they don't report any incident to the police. And even the bystanders, the Chinese people happen, walk by, happen, they don't even go to report it. They just didn't see it, ignored it most of time. Because due to language, due to the knowledge-wise  and understanding of the situation. So they usually just ignore it, keep walking. 

GONZÁLEZ: I know that you came here in the 1960s? Yeah, right. And so has the climate around being Asian American has that changed at all? Or stayed the same?

KWONG: I didn't see much in Rhode Island. But I see a lot of big changes in the big city. See Rhode Island, you go to store, convenience store, you take a car instead of walking down there. But in the Chinatown in San Francisco, New York, Boston, they’re different. They got a lot of neighborhood-type of store. You can walk right down there to get together, buy your necessity for the day or so. That’s why the chance of it happening in Rhode Island is very very rare. 

GONZÁLEZ:  I also know that you told me that you served in Vietnam, and you were stationed in New Jersey –

KWONG: No, I was stationed in, New Jersey only is for training. Also, Fort Lewis, too. That’s in Washington. 

GONZÁLEZ: And you told me a story, last time we talked, about when you were in training, and they would make you pretend to be….

KWONG: Vietnamese. Yeah, that could be another prejudice you talk about, of course. During the staging for the training, they want to find somebody similar look like Vietnamese, with darker skin, short black hair, to you know, portray the Vietnamese running around. So the other soldier will go after them. So that's how they portray me. But I'm the only Chinese into the training group. That's why they using me as a demo for the situation. At that time, I had no resentful for it. Of course, I didn't deep think. I just do my job. That's that's what I'm thinking on that. If you think about it a little bit more now, you could say oh, that's how come they discriminate me? They don't, you know, find a white guy or black guy to portray the Vietnamese? How come they pick me? I could fight against that, but that’s not my thinking that time, you know. I just do my job, I finish a job. That’s it.

GONZÁLEZ: What do you think would have happened if you did speak up in that moment?

KWONG: I got a small voice on that. For that part. Even though I speak up, I get more punishment off from it. Because during the 60s, the trainings were very harsh, you know. They using all kind of four letter word. Very tough training. Almost like went through hell. During that time, you don't say. Just keep quiet, do your job and finish that moment. That's how my, my feeling that moment. Of course, right when I think back, I could do a lot of thing about it. But what can you do with the only one voice? Unless you got a group of people representing you in that department. So they could fight for that right, you know what I mean?


GONZÁLEZ: What would you say to somebody now who is in a similar situation? Maybe they're 18, 20 years old, somebody making fun of them for being of Asian descent, what would you say to them? 

KWONG: The first thing I want them to do is speak up for your right. That is most important. I even realize that, too, even though I'm a quiet person. Just stay in the corner, do my job. You gotta speak up yourself. So, whatever your rights are, then the people will notice it. You don’t say that, nobody would know. That's the only thing I find out, that that might be the most important thing. 

GONZÁLEZ: What would you say is kind of the last word that you want to leave it on? Either advice or thoughts or hope for the future?

KWONG: Well, hope for the future, I should say: I would like the people to speak out their right more often than just keep quiet inside yourself. So, that will be exercise your right. When anything happen, you tell people about it. They don’t just keep it inside your community, keep it inside yourself. You’ll hurt you a lot more in the long run. That’s how I feel about that. 

GONZÁLEZ: Thanks, Peter.