Texas state Rep. Gene Wu (left) and former state Rep. Sylvester Turner (right), who later served as mayor of Houston, discuss business during the 2015 legislative session (Photo courtesy of Rep. Gene Wu).

When one first meets Texas state Rep. Gene Wu, a Democrat from Houston, several nouns come to mind.

Soldier.

Warrior.

Drum major.

But for the Texas A&M University and University of Texas graduate, the typical definition of drum major, the person out front getting all the attention, does not apply.

The drum major that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on during his “Drum Major Instinct” sermon applies perfectly.

King said, “Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior…and to feel that their White skin ordained them to be first. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love.”

Wu is a drum major for racial equality.

He is a drum major for fairness and equity.

And most importantly, he is a drum major for a racial unity that could help reduce the sting of racism and White supremacy that all racial minorities face, whether African-American or Asian-American.

And Rep. Wu definitely has a love for the constituents he serves, especially those that the majority has pushed to the margins of society because of race or socioeconomic status.

To have racial unity, minorities must put their biases against one another aside to fight the common opponent known as racism.

Specifically, stereotypes and differences that exist amongst African-Americans and Asian-Americans must be mended by dialogue, interaction and an understanding of shared experiences.

Many African-Americans believe that they should not care much about the discrimination that Asian-Americans endure because they have not seen many Asian-Americans speaking out against anti-African-American discrimination.

Furthermore, many African-Americans believe they face discrimination from Asian storeowners who set up shop in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, but then subject those consumers to racial profiling and other forms of discrimination.

Many African-Americans have held the stereotype that the only reason Asian businessowners set up shop in predominantly African-Americans is because the African-American community often supports communities that do not support them, to their own detriment.

But Wu said that the reason that many Asian-American businessowners operate in predominantly African-American areas is because racism makes it more difficult for them to get loans to open businesses in predominantly White communities.

Furthermore, he said that he believes that some of the bigotry that African-American customers feel from Asian-American business owners is because of the myth of the model minority championed by some in the White community, which states that Asians are the good minority group, and that African-Americans are the bad and criminal minority.

That possible prejudice might rear its ugly head when the communities interact on a business level.

Heading into the 2024 presidential election, many African-Americans have expressed dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden when it comes to addressing racism aimed at African-Americans.

But at the same time, many African-American voters believe that President Biden has prioritized anti-Asian hate crimes following the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the African-American vote was crucial to his 2020 victory.

However, Wu does not see Biden’s actions aimed at stopping anti-Asian hate as anything that might make a major difference.

“As an Asian-American,” Wu said, “I don’t think Biden has done all that much for anti-Asian hate crimes. Maybe the perception is different in other places. What literally has been done ain’t much.

“A lot of it is just we’re going to have some meetings, some conferences. We’re going to talk about it. We’re going to send a strong message. But other than that, where is it? Where are the additional resources from the DOJ? Where is the special FBI task force?”

On the other hand, Wu said that for any community of color, there is no such thing as too much anti-racism.

He said, “I’m really tired of people saying I’m not racist. No, not being a racist doesn’t mean you don’t commit acts of atrocities. It means you are actively anti-racist. You go seek out the racism and confront it.”

And although the Democratic Party has gotten the reputation of confronting racism over the past few decades, Wu said that standing up against anti-African-American racism and taking proper care of that community is something that his party should continue to take seriously going forward.

Wu said that many of his Democratic colleagues bite their nails and are scared to talk about things like racial oppression and the need for African-Americans to receive reparations because they are scared to make some potential voters who are swayed by the Republicans anti-woke movement uncomfortable.

He said that woke is just a term created to describe people who are aware of the historical atrocities that African-Americans have gone through and the past and continue to go through.

To combat decades and centuries of racial oppression, the country needs to do a better job of addressing issues like housing, healthcare and other issues that make it harder for people to pull themselves out of oppression and poverty.

While addressing issues of racism might make some uncomfortable, Wu explained that all American history is uncomfortable starting with the genocide committed against Native Americans.

One of the most controversial issues that many Democrats are now championing to address some of the past sins committed, specifically, against African-Americans is reparations.

But as Wu told RegalMag.com, reparations for what?

Reparations for slavery?

Reparations for Jim Crow?

Reparations for redlining?

Reparations for the Civil Rights era?

Wu believes that it is appropriate to say that Democrats could do more to address systemic racism.

And the conversation needs to continue beyond 2024.

Furthermore, Wu said that minorities like those from the African-American and Asian-American communities need to dialogue more to find out that the communities have more in common than they might think.

Actually, the communities might be joined at the hip in more ways than meets the eye.

But to realize that commonality, communities of color need to keep their eye on the prize of true unity and racial equality.

And that takes real soldiers and drum majors.

King famously preached, “I want you to be able to say that day I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Thankfully, Wu is a drum major for all the right reasons.

Furthermore, his works matter a great deal for those marginalized by an unfair American system.

Todd A. Smith
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