Angry Reader of the Week: Wei Chen

What's up, good people? It is my pleasure to introduce the latest Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Wei Chen.

Who are you?

Wei Chen 陈威, 1.5 generation Chinese immigrant, son of a bus driver and factory worker, community youth organizer, mentor, calligrapher, photographer, non-professional Beijing opera singer, dragon boat coach.

What are you?

Working with Chinese immigrant students, use first language, learn America society and address some of the problems we face every day. Learn to be proud our identity and heritage. Working on learning from the old generation to inspire the new generation.

Where are you?

I co-founded the Chinese Youth Organizing Project for new immigrant youth to continue my work. Many immigrant youth don’t have an opportunity to learn about new culture. They don't get chances to learn about the struggles we have. I founded CYOP to teach young people to do something together. I spent many years learning how to be an organizer and advocate for my community. I have many things I still want to learn. I just received the Peace First Prize fellowship and I will be able continue doing this work with my community.

Where are you from?

From Changle, Fujian Province, China (福建省长乐). From learning English as a second language.

From South Philly High, where I experienced racial violence at my school. I quickly learned that I wasn't the only target and that a culture of violence prevailed at the school with no support from administrators. So I began organizing students with the goal of getting school staff to take responsibility for the safety of all students.

What do you do?

I was organizing Asian students to stand up to bullying, racism and violence in Philadelphia schools. I organized fellow students in a boycott to hold both teachers and administrators accountable. This work led to a victorious civil rights complaint to the Department of Justice, the dismissal of the principal, staff training on bias, and a new policy on harassment.

What are you all about?

Came to United States when I was 16, started learning English from A.B.C... but had very hard time to getting knowledge at an unsafe school. After started organizing at South Philly High, I went to many places to give speeches and workshops for more people to learn about Asian students' struggles. Also, I attended conferences to study leadership skills. Now, I'm turning my head to look at my past footsteps:

From a victim to an organizer, from an organizer to a student leader, from a student leader to community youth organizer.

What makes you angry?

In October 2008, a big crowd chased four Chinese immigrant students after school and beat them up. I was so upset. I organized Chinese students to meet with the principal. The principal said, "This is South Philadelphia High. Everyone gets beat up." I felt angry because this shouldn't be American life. I decided to act. I began to organize students and documented every attack.

On December 3rd, 2009, dozens of Asian students were attacked in our school all day; 13 went to the hospital. At lunch, 70 students surrounded and beat groups of Asian students. After school more than 100 students chased down 10 Asians and beat them. I am angry.

After December 3rd, I knew this was never going to stop unless students took a stand for ourselves.

angry archive