Cin-Ty Lee oral history interview and transcript, June 25 2018

Rice University

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0:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: "I’m Cin-ty Lee. And uh…professor of, uh, geology in the department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. Been here fifteen years."

Keywords: Asian American; geology; Houston; identify; professor; United States

Subjects: interview; job

0:37 - Parents' background

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Partial Transcript: "Yeah so, I, I was born, uh, in Taiwan actually, but I came here very young. Uh, less than a year old. My parents brought me over here, that’s what they told me, I don’t actually remember. [laughs] But, but I – and then since then I pretty been in the, the States, um, then, uh, grew up in Southern California in this town called Riverside."

Keywords: army; California; college; dad; Earth Science; freedom; geology; high school; job; mom; parents; political prisoner; Riverside; Taiwan; UC Riverside; University of Idaho; University of Southern California

Subjects: father; father's career; great-grandfather; mother; parents' education; Riverside; Taiwan; wife's great-grandfather

6:24 - Studying geology in college (following fathers' footsteps)

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Partial Transcript: "...Yeah, yeah, so, uh, and then I’m a geologist, uh, too, uh, and maybe I followed in my dad’s footsteps in a sense, uh, when he came to Riverside I would just tag along with him all the time in the field, and I don’t think I ever really wanted to be a geologist."

Keywords: Berkeley; career; class; classes; dad's footsteps; engineer; geophysics; pre-med; roommate

Subjects: undergraduate

8:09 - Experiences with racism growing up

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Partial Transcript: "...I guess going back into, uh, growing up in Riverside, um, how that shaped me to where I am is I think when, um, kindergarten to sort of second grade, uh, for some reason all of that was, was fine. It was only until the third grade, and I don’t know why, but that was the first time I ever experienced, uh, racism."

Keywords: assimilate; brother; bullied; Chinese; chink; confidence; depression; elementary school; friends; high school; hurt; junior high; kid; margins; math; media; parents; physics; pressure; racism; Riverside; stereotype; struggle; suicide; third grade

Subjects: Berkeley; bullying; racism; school; stereotypes

16:52 - Childhood mentors and passion for birds

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Partial Transcript: "...I guess what this would come back to where I am now, because I don’t have those issues anymore, um, and I…one of the things that really helped me, uh, get my self-confidence back when I was in high school was, uh, it wasn’t particularly anything, but I had one of my dad’s friends, and this goes to the importance of mentors."

Keywords: bird watchers; birds; dad's friends; field guide; Idaho; John Bohm; Lutheran; mentors; oranges; self-confidence

Subjects: birdwatching; John Bohm; mentors

22:09 - Undergraduate college experience

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Partial Transcript: " college, uh, it was, uh, you know, it was a tough time too, trying to find my way through. Uh, experiencing times where you’re not sure if it’s discrimination or not when you’re uh…it’s, it’s like you know do you have access to the professors, will they talk to you, right? It’s a big school, Rice is a little bit smaller..."

Keywords: African American; anger; Asian American club; college; faculty; first graduate student; illustrating; magazine; protesting; rage; Rodney King; Slant; worthless

Subjects: Berkeley; faculty; racism; undergraduate

33:46 - Art/painting hobby

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Partial Transcript: "... my parents were really, I think it was really good. They kind of let me do a lot of things. I mean they let me birdwatch. They even, actually, um, would go with me places even though they had, didn’t really have that interest. Think Pokemon where you chase those, those little critters or you know or whatever. I was literally just chasing birds and then drag, because I couldn’t drive, drag my parents."

Keywords: auction; birds; birdwatch; donate; fundraisers; Gulf Coast Bird Observatory; Houston Audubon Society; painting; parents

Subjects: art; birdwatching; painting

36:43 - Working at Rice, living in Houston, and becoming a mentor

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Partial Transcript: "...I think certainly in the sciences there are probably more Asians, uh, Asian Americans in the sort of science or engineering. Um, but if you look at, um, yeah, if you look at engineering and, uh, physical and biological science, most of the Asians in that community are, um, uh, foreign born. I am from the group that grew up in the US."

Keywords: academia; bias; biases; businesses; chair; Chairman Mao; confidence; cosmopolitan; creative; diversity; dragon lady; faculty; Houston; inequalities; leadership; mentor; micro-aggressions; represented; restaurants; stereotype; Texas; underdog; welcome

Subjects: advice; bias; confidence; Houston; micro-aggression

52:17 - Relationship towards Taiwanese/Asian heritage

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Partial Transcript: "There's, uh, there's no question I've lost some of that, uh, cul--original culture. I would say when I was young I was even embarrassed to be Chinese. Wondering, "Why should I? Why can't I be like all the, look like all the other kids." Um, I don't think I'm unique in that sense."

Keywords: accent; American; culture; embarrassed; food; help; heritage; hierarchy; language; limbo; respectability; scientific conferences; son; wife

Subjects: American; identity; Taiwan; travel

58:38 - Relationship with his brother, similarities and differences between their childhoods

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Partial Transcript: "We were going through the same experiences, um…You know we didn’t talk as much as we should have in high school. I think we talked more afterwards when we were in college and then now. Uh, I think we both went, yeah, a lot of challenges."

Keywords: academics; achievement; brother; bullied; depression; fights; high school; school

Subjects: academics; brother; bullying; childhood; high school; sibling

64:04 - Reflections on social progress since his childhood

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Partial Transcript: "...I think part of it is just doing, uh, as best that I can do on, on managing and leading the department but, but there is a part of me that believes so strongly that whatever I do now can, even if it’s just incremental, make it just a little bit easier for the next generation..."

Keywords: appalled; belong; changed; Chevy Chase; comedy; coming of age; country club; derision; friends; girlfriend; hiking; internalize; media; movie; next generation; norm; now; Obama; place; representation; Revenge of the Nerds; stereotypes

Subjects: exclusion; media

70:30 - Meeting his wife

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Partial Transcript: "...Well, I, I met her here at the café and, uh, she might tell it slightly differently, but, uh, and we were, it was just, she was there with some friends and we just somehow ended up sitting together and we started talking and, uh, that's how it happened."

Keywords: cafe; friends; lucky; personal growth; right one; Taiwanese; wife

Subjects: wife


Interviewee: Cin-ty Lee

Interviewers: Zoe Clark, Taylor Ginter

Date/Time of Interview: June 25, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Audio Track Time: 1:13:30

Edited by: Daniel Ngo




CL: Cin-ty Lee

ZC: Zoe Clark

TG: Taylor Ginter

--: speech cuts off; abrupt stop

--: speech trails off; pause  

Italics: emphasis   

(?): preceding word may not be accurate

[Brackets]: actions [laughs, sighs, etc.]

Interview transcript:

TG: Hi, my name is Taylor Ginter. We're here on June 25th, around four o'clock PM in a Fondren study room.

ZC: I'm Zoe Clark.

CL: And I'm Cin-ty Lee. And uh--professor of, uh, geology in the department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. Been here fifteen years.

TG: Awesome! Yeah! So, we're, uh, interviewing Dr. Lee about his experience as an Asian American living in the United States, living in Houston, and kind of just anything else about identity, the Asian American experience, really anywhere it goes.

CL: Okay, yeah.

TG: So how about we start off with your childhood. Like when, where were you born?

CL: Yeah so, I, I was born, uh, in Taiwan actually, but I came here very young. Uh, less than a year old. My parents brought me over here, that's what they told me, I don't actually remember. [laughs] But, but I -- and then since then I pretty been in the, the States, um, then, uh, grew up in Southern California in 1:00this town called Riverside. I don't know if you ever heard of that. Um, but it's, at the time, it was more kind of, it was inland, more on the rural side. Uh, not very, uh, cosmopolitan area, even though you think of California as the melting pot, but once you get inland it's not. So, I grew up there. My dad, uh, uh, was a professor, uh, at UC Riverside in geology. Um, he came from a very poor background, uh, actually when he was in Taiwan. It was the first, uh, in his family to go to, uh, college or-or even high school. And, um, his grandfather had actually been put in prison during some of his formative years as a political prisoner when they had the, um, the Taiwanese government were kind of beginning to persecute a lot of the people in Taiwan so they, um, um, 2:00put him in prison. So, he was without a dad for, uh, a while. And I'll come back to tha-that because my wife, my wife's father, he was, uh, grand--uh--father was also put in prison around the same time and they were in the same prison together. We did not know that until after we got married, and so. [TG: Wow.] [laughs] Um, but so he kind of miraculously made it out of Taiwan, and then got a degree in the US, um, uh--came with my mom and, uh, you know they had no idea what they were doing and just kind of, uh, this is one thing of you know being. He-he got, I mean, he was doing well in his stuff, but it takes a little luck to, to get, uh, a job, and he wasn't getting anything, but then suddenly this opportunity rose in Riverside and they were willing to take a risk on him. So, 3:00he got this job uh--and so that's how we ended up in, uh, Riverside. Um, at the time there were almost no Asians, uh, there, um, so when I grew up, uh, yeah there was, was, uh, very few, uh, Asians of my, in my peer group. So, it was, uh, a interesting time. So, that was in the--born in 1974 so 1980s is kind of my formative years as a kid in that small town. So, uh--I, I, I keep continuing or just interrupt me whenever.

TG: Well yeah! So how did your father get interested in geology?

CL: Well for him I think it-it's, you know--it's--I look at, uh, kids is not the right word to say, but ki-kids today in the US, you have a lot of freedom to, 4:00uh, maybe not all do, but many have freedom to choose what they want to do, but back when, if you're really poor you don't know. You don't even what's possible, uh, to go for and so what happens was, uh, he took--he seemed to do pretty well in some exams and so the, uh, high school teacher say, "Oh maybe you should go to college." He didn't think he should go to college. But--so he went to college, didn't know what he was going to get into but studied just the typical math, uh, that's-- was just normal at the time. And then, um, gradually stumbled upon, uh, the Earth Sciences. I don't exactly know 'cause I he never wanted to be an Earth scientist, but I don't know the details of how he got into it, but I think he stumbled upon it accidentally and that's, well evidently, he went to grad school just kind of followed the flow. He had to serve in the army between 5:00those times of course.

TG: In America or Taiwan?

CL: In Taiwan. Yeah then they got here and first went to, uh, University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, uh, where there's like, there were zero Asians at that time like 19, uh, 60s, 1970s. My mom had went to University of Southern California where maybe there were a few more Asians, but still very few at that time. Because at that time there were almost no mainlanders coming to the US for education. Not like today there's so many, so most were coming from Taiwan, but that was still small, so they were split apart at that time, uh, but, uh, so he was in Moscow, um, for a couple of years, got a masters there, then eventually came back to USC. Tha--again that's like, um, luck and, and just thankful that the, the guys down at USC, uh, decided to take a risk on him because his grades 6:00actually weren't that good, um, so they didn't--my mom's were much better [laughs] so they didn't, nobody really wanted my dad [laughs]. But somehow, he, he managed to convince them to-to, uh, take him and then so they were reunited. And then, somewhere around that time I was conceived I don't remember [laughs]. Yeah, yeah, so, uh, and then I'm a geologist, uh, too, uh, and maybe I followed in my dad's footsteps in a sense, uh, when he came to Riverside I would just tag along with him all the time in the field, and I don't think I ever really wanted to be a geologist. I liked it, but I-I thought, you know, if you want a job you should be pre-med or you should be an engineer or you, anything but geology is what I had been, uh, all my peers were saying all the friends, um, so. But I 7:00always loved it, and, but then when I got to college, uh, I guess I entirely skipped over my youth, but we'll, we can come back to that.

When I got to college, uh, the um. I ended up taking a number of classes, it was at Berkeley, uh, taking some pre-med classes, not doing very well in them and, uh, what else did I take. Well I wanted to be an architect, but I took that, did not do very well in it because I couldn't stay awake through the lectures [laughs]. Not because the lectures weren't interesting. It was because my roommate would never sleep. Uh, we had different hours like I cou--I could never get to sleep so I was so exhausted, so I failed all those exams. So, I said these aren't for, for me. And then I finally decided to take a class that was, um, a geo-geophysics class. Maybe I should figure out what my dad does just to see. And then I took that. Oh, I actually, uh, know some of these and had a head start in that sense so. And that's where I am now in terms of, uh, career so. 8:00But, uh, I guess going back into, uh, growing up in Riverside, um, how that shaped me to where I am is I think when, um, kindergarten to sort of second grade, uh, for some reason all of that was, was fine. It was only until the third grade, and I don't know why, but that was the first time I ever experienced, uh, racism. And when you have a -- when you're little kids you don't know how to -- you don't know what that is and you just know that it's not good and you can go back and tell your parents. But because they didn't grow up here they don't understand that that, uh, is really that bad or that racism, so 9:00you don't have someone, um-- they're just they grew up in a secure environment where the people looks like them so they didn't understand racism. It's a hard thing to describe. So, uh, I would have that struggle.

So, I remember third grade around those times is things like the-the first time someone would turn their eyes up, uh, at me. Uh, call me a-a-a chink or, or worse, uh, and getting bullied and beat up and stuff and, uh, and it-it really changes. And, uh, I don't think I'm, um, unique in that. I think many kids, uh, go through that, um, but it really shapes, uh, how you see the world. So, I had a lot of trouble, uh, in elementary school, um, trying to assimilate, uh, into the, the culture, and so, I think we started off saying I think you speak 10:00Chinese better than I do. I don't--do you speak Chinese or any Asian language?

ZC: No I, I chose Korean. [laughs]

CL: Okay! [laughs] Do you speak Korean?

ZC: A little bit.

CL: Okay, okay. Yeah, so at that time, right, as a, as a kid, uh, you become -- there were no other Asians around so nobody as role models. Uh, the media at the time, uh, depicts Asians, not just Asians but there was, uh, depicting African Americans and Asians all very negative way. Hispanic Americans I think they weren't even depicted in the, in the, at that time in the, uh, media, but, um, you-you develop -- you're not really proud to be Asian, you actually don't want to be Asian. Um, so we as a cause, we didn't want to speak Chinese, my brother and I. That's why I don't know, even though my mom tried to get me to learn some. So, I do know some, uh, that probably I've gotten better since 'cause my wife is Taiwanese and we're training our kid, uh, to speak, uh, Chinese and not 11:00to have the same mistake that I, I went through. Um--but yeah. Um, tho-those, those were tough times and then, uh, then going up into junior high and high school you know being an Asian was -- did not get any better because you know in junior high that is when everyone is trying to, um, uh, show off, like, you know, find your identity, and stuff so I, I don't think I ever found my identity during that time and, um, just, just a lot of, uh, struggles, uh, there at that time and you know you have, um, there's -- there was also the perception that Asian Americans you know you're not good at sports. Everything was bad except that maybe you might be good at math and physics. That was the stereotype. But I 12:00wasn't [laughs] so it was like, "Oh crap. I can't even do that you know." [laughs] So, so you know it was, it was a tough time. Yeah.

TG: So, did you feel extra pressure then to do exceptionally well at like math and science?

CL: I think my brother did. My younger brother. I, I didn't because, uh, I knew I wasn't, at the time, uh, now I actually do a lot of math and physics in my business. But at the time I didn't think I was very good anyway. So, I thought well what's the point of investing, uh, much of my time in that? Um, I think I was just trying to, to make it, uh, through you know--You know when--I, I had some good friends. Uh, they were, uh, non--non-Asian, but you know you would 13:00hear every once in a while, some random, uh, stereotype comment that, that would happen. And when you hear that even from your so-called best friends, you, um, you start to wonder, right? Whether you really belong or whether you really have, uh, friends. So, everyone was like, kind of, kept everyone at a, at a distance. So, I, I think I had more things to worry about than trying to do well in math. Um, you know I remember once, there were some friends and I were driving and as we were driving, um, down the road the windows were down -- this was in high school -- and some other cars, another guy came driving up beside us and he yelled at me and he called, uh, well is it allowed? Can I say on?

ZC: Yeah. I think you can say it.


TG: Yeah if you're comfortable saying it.

CL: Oh, I'm comfortable. I don't know about--

ZC: Oh yeah you can say it.

CL: Oh ok. They, you know they screamed, they called me a slant-eyed motherfucker.

ZC: Wow.

CL: And, uh, you know those sorts of things, you don't forget and of course I was mad but there wasn't much I could do.

My friend who was, uh, not Asian, uh, didn't fully understand how much this hurt me. I mean I took, for weeks I was mulling over this thing like, "Why do I have to deal with this" but, so, so yeah it wasn't, I wasn't worrying too much about, um, academics. Um I--it, it was especially tough because I you know those times you know lots of depression and lack of, uh, confidence and, uh, you know it's embarrassing, but to also, you would think of suicide, uh, a lot. And I guess I 15:00mention this because from my generation, and I actually think this, even the, your generation Asian Americans, not just Asian Americans but anyone who feels, uh, uh, put on the margins, but, uh, a lot they have somewhat similar experience. When I actually got to college at Berkeley, there were a lot more Asian Americans there, so it was like, "Wow, I didn't know there were other Asian Americans that existed 'cause where I grew up." But many of them, uh, we could relate. Many of them had similar, uh, struggles, uh, and were struggling with lots of psychological problems, uh, psychological may not be the right word but it's just how to, uh--they were otherwise good really, um, free people, but once you have all this, uh, um, discrimination or, towards you, you sort of pull 16:00back from who you really are and don't, and in fact you may even start to act like what people think you should act like. It's almost like what's called you know self-perpetuating, uh, stereotypes that you know you're not supposed to, to, uh, uh, be very social or be a leader or anything like that so you wouldn't do it because you thought, "Well, what's the point. You're just going to be -- they're just going to assume that you can't do it." And then if you try to do it, you're under even more pressure because you want to prove, uh, uh, people wrong, but then you're putting pressure on yourself then you choke.

So, I met a lot of kids, uh, my age like that that came from a lot of different places that struggled, uh, as well. So, um--the, uh, I guess what this would come back to where I am now, because I don't have those issues anymore, um, and 17:00I--one of the things that really helped me, uh, get my self-confidence back when I was in high school was, uh, it wasn't particularly anything, but I had one of my dad's friends, and this goes to the importance of mentors. This was, uh, uh, he was White. Uh, I mean most people there were White, Hispanic, or African American, but he, um, was a colleague of my dad's. And he, somehow for some reason took some interest in me, um, actually two of my dad's friends actually I want to take a step back. When my dad went to Idaho, um, he was completely a fish out of the water but there was one guy there that kind of decided to help mentor him and it was this guy named John Bohm, who just died a few months ago and he was, uh, he became my guardian. He's, he's, uh, Swedish by descent I 18:00guess. A Lutheran. A hardcore Lutheran. And, uh, for some odd reason he connected with my dad and sort of showed him what not to do and tried to get him to understand some of American culture and they exchanged stuff. And then uh, John Bohm (?) and his wife Karen, they never had children but, uh, so anyway they took a liking to me as a kid, and, uh, we used to live out, um, in the countryside actually even though he was working at the university.

Uh, we had an orange grove and we sold orange, oranges to, uh, Sunkist. They were horrible oranges [laughs]. Well that's the problem because you had to, you had to, um, you have to water them and in California there's not much water you have to pay for that water. So, if you want really good oranges, you have to pay, you have to water them really well, but you don't have the money, so you 19:00try to cut back on that, but you can't cut completely so it turns out you get mediocre oranges. Either dead oranges or great oranges, but it's very expensive to run the great oranges so you end up with mediocre oranges. We had like 500 mediocre orange trees [laughs]. So that's, I grew up in a place like that, but since it was like a farm, I would, I was always looking at bugs, and birds, and you know animals and, uh, there's John Bohm saw that interest of mine. That was the only thing that kind of, that I was interested in. Not in anything else. Not the math, not the physics, not reading, not writing and, uh, partly because there was competition too much pressure from you know. Anyways, so, he got me this bird book. Field guide to birds and so just, just look at this. And so, I got into this, uh, just searching for birds and identifying them and then became obsessed, uh, with that. And then another one of my dad's colleagues who was a 20:00geologist but happened to be a bird watcher. A lot of geologists are bird watchers.

TG: Yeah is that a big overlap?

CL: For some odd, field geologists for some odd reason they become they're bird watchers, yeah. Where they're both you know they're both in the field and you're looking at rocks, you're out in nature, and when the rocks get boring the only thing to look at are birds, so [laughs]. The rocks don't change so you look at the birds. So, he came and would take me out on some trips, and that really helped me a lot, uh, in the sense that at the time as a kid you felt you don't get any support from many of your peers, uh, uh 'cause they didn't want you around anyway. The teachers didn't really help out that much, uh, they have probably had many other things they had to deal with. The media was against you in everything and so really you were alone. But these two guys, uh, of course your parents care about you, but it's a whole different story when your parents. 21:00Of course, they're supposed to care about you, right, but having two other people actually believe in me, made a difference. And so, this, this goes to you know where I am now. I believe so strongly in that you gotta have mentors, all types. Kids gotta find a mentor somehow or people who've made it need to turn around and, and offer their mentorship if they can because if you don't get that kids can go, just go off and fall off the wayside. And so, I was very lucky and so I got into that and became really very, uh, kind of crazy about the birds and got very good at it. And so, I felt well at least you know there's something I'm good at even though no one else in the world cares about, but you know, I'm good at this. So that was helpful, um, yeah. Then--Where, where are we? I think that is what really kept me literally I would say alive through high school. If I 22:00didn't have that I'm not even sure I'd be here today. Um, then I got to college. Um, in college, uh, it was, uh, you know, it was a tough time too, trying to find my way through. Uh, experiencing times where you're not sure if it's discrimination or not when you're uh--it's, it's like you know do you have access to the professors, will they talk to you, right? It's a big school, Rice is a little bit smaller, but even Rice I'm sure there's these -- everywhere. Where you know some students may relate better to the faculty or may be perceived that they do so you know they, the, you know, faculty will talk to you and get, um, well, it's extra, right, you get more insight. Um, career 23:00development and everything, and if you don't have that connection with the faculty, uh, you, it's not the end of the world but it's, it's, uh, you're at a disadvantage a little bit compared to someone else who does. So, I mean the best way I could describe it is like say, say you have, uh, in geology it's a very, at the time, it was very male-dominated, beer-drinking, frat type culture. So, if you're a male student that um, um, is comfortable with that then you can almost be friends with your, the faculty and you get more insight. If you're a female student, you get less. Um, and, uh, if you're an Asian student, I got less in the beginning, but then you always question whether is it because it's just me, or is it because I'm Asian? Or is it just me or because I'm a woman? Or whatever, uh, like that. So, you just never know. You don't know what, what the issue, uh, is because I couldn't relate to many of the things they, they do. Um, 24:00but that being said, I think I finally ended up choosing a path, which was sort of science where I didn't need to have, uh, the social skills, I didn't have to drink beer, I didn't have to smoke pot, uh, I didn't have to do any of those to fit in. As long as you, I figured, look as long as I do good work at some point, uh, I'll have a chance. That sort of thing so just keep your head down and just, uh, do your thing and, uh, some of the faculty there did take, um, some interest in me finally and helped me, um, eventually to, to continue, continue on, so. Um, I've just been talking non-stop so keep going, keep going.

TG: Were you--yeah, no, this is great! Um, but I do have a few questions.

CL: Yeah.

TG: Were you involved with any Asian American clubs or groups during college? 25:00Did those exist at the time?

CL: I, I, I was. Um--in high school we had one, but, uh, it was so small we didn't, we didn't, we didn't really do anything. Uh, in college there wa--there was more. I, I got involved with some of them. But I don't, I guess I don't recall doing very, very much, uh, with them. The thing is, actually, the Asian mix (?) is also very diverse so, uh, you know with Asians there's Koreans, there's Chinese, there's Taiwanese, there's Japanese, and even among them there's different thing and people growing up in different areas. So, um, I, on some level I-I didn't fully relate to, uh, all of them either, uh, and I think I can speak for other Asian Americans too that it wasn't really something binding 26:00us together, uh, that strongly so, uh, it's a weird thing to be, right? I didn't feel parts of, of, uh, uh, I mean I was American, but I didn't feel part of what was considered American, nor did I feel part of the Asian American community because I didn't grow up with a lot of them, so I was very lost. Um, but, uh, I do recall and I took a, uh, I took a Asian American studies class, um, and again the, the, the experiences, and I'm sure you know because you've interviewed different types of people, it depends on the generation or whatever. So different so, that didn't help me either discover myself ironically. I was even more lost after taking this Asian American English, uh, class. Uh, but about 27:00that time, I think, I think, at that time, I was, uh, under-- I had moved from just, uh, extreme sort of depression to more of like "I've had it, this is just stupid that I have to deal with this." It became more of a rage. I hope I'm not the, uh, only -- you guys -- this video, you guys are probably going to think I'm crazy. [laughs] Uh, and it's a rage, a rage of just anger, I suppose, of why, um, why I had to -- I kind of felt like anything I want to do I was just being squashed, uh, down and not just squashed down but I mean just telling me that I am worthless in every way from media to just everyone around me. I can go into detail about those, but, uh, and even mo--and the rage would get stronger 28:00because they would try to tell--they try to tell my parents. You know you want to talk about it because sometimes it helps just to talk.

Um, and so I tried to talk to my parents because, you know, other people if I tried to talk to would think I'm crazy. [laughs] So, I talked, but they would really never understand the -- where the rage was coming from. They could understand I was upset but not that rage, um, you know I, I can't, obviously cannot speak for, um, you know the, the Black Lives Matter or the African Americans, but, uh, actually one of my, um, uh, well, my first graduate student, uh, is African American and PhD student too. We keep in touch quite a bit. He can actually speak Chinese [all laugh] and, yeah, plus a bunch of other languages too. And, um, when I got to Rice I was, I guess I was twenty-seven and he was like, kind of mid-twenties or like twenty-four or something so we were 29:00really in age very close so we, we would, we were almost like friends even though I was presumably his advisor or boss, but we were equals. And, um, and we would not just talk science, but we'd also talk about struggles. So, he would tell me when he was younger he would just rage, uh, the things that he had to, to, to deal with and so-- Yeah so, I was in a college, all the--even to, into grad school a rage, a period of rage I suppose, just anger so as undergrad we even, a number of Asian Americans, we did meet up and we talk about how to change these, these things. This was actually right about time, uh, just after, uh, the Rodney King, uh, the beatings that happened, but then the, the trial happened and the officers were acquitted. Um, and so like Berkeley exploded 30:00right. There were people overturning police cars. And so there -- everyone was mad, uh, there. I never turned over a police car [laughs] for the record [laughs]. I just watched them [laughs] I wasn't strong enough [laughs].

But--so--there was some kind of extremism at the time like, "What do we need to do?" And it wasn't just Asians, it was African Americans too and, um, what, you know, do we do it just by keeping our heads to the ground or do we make change by actually real protesting, real, uh, not violence but, uh, just getting out there and, and, and just shouting. And, uh, so we talked about that, we plotted a lot, uh, but we never did anything, uh, we were, I guess a bunch of chickens, 31:00I guess, [laughs] or, or people all went off other ways. Um, so that was the end of that. And when I look back, I, I realize--at the age when you're eighteen to twenty-one, twenty-two your prefrontal cortex is not fully developed so you do stupid things and we never, uh, none of that would have helped anyway, I don't think. There, there were, there are different ways to make change, uh, rather than just going out and protesting, because either people won't listen or hear anyway or if you protest too much they just think you're crazy. And so, the fact that we didn't do anything really organized, uh, probably didn't matter, uh, that much.

But I did get involved in a magazine, um, uh, more illustrating for that magazine. I don't know if it still exists. It was called "Slant," which is a 32:00weird name, but it's sort of like--

TG: We've heard of that. Yeah.

CL: Is it still in existence?

TG: I'm not sure.

CL: Uh, and of course it's, it's sort of like, "Nobody else can use that word and call me a slant-eyed you know or whatever or, uh, that," but it was sort of the Asians could u--if it was ok if Asians said it 'cause you know it was sort of like, it's really not ok, but they, they still used it, but it was like we, um, we it's, it's--

TG: Like reclaimed it?

CL: Reclaiming it yeah is the word. Yeah, but it doesn't give other people, um, the opportunity to say, to say that because they didn't go through the same sort of pains, uh, as, as whoever, whatever word you're using that you're reclaiming. I was not comfortable with that because I had had that hurled at me and stuff, but, uh, but I didn't start the magazine so I couldn't change it, someone else 33:00started it, but I, I would do, uh, illustrations for that. They were mostly, uh, illustrations of, of kind of standing up to, to oppression or discrimination or how to find your voice or being lost so that, that I lost the originals, I don't know where they went. Um, yeah. I have one of a face, uh, just screaming and a whole bunch of people, um, and I don't remember even what was going on in my mind and what the theme was, but apparently, they liked it a lot. But that was the level, uh, of involvement I had with, uh, that magazine.

TG: Um, do you have any questions?

CL: Yeah.

ZC: Um, I wanted to like talk maybe a little more about your art throughout your life. [CL: Yeah.] How did that -- were your parents supportive of you doing art. And was art like always been a constant even since you were young.

CL: Yeah, you know, my, my parents were really, I think it was really good. They 34:00kind of let me do a lot of things. I mean they let me birdwatch. They even, actually, um, would go with me places even though they had, didn't really have that interest. Think Pokemon where you chase those, those little critters or you know or whatever. I was literally just chasing birds and then drag, because I couldn't drive, drag my parents. They would take me. I was so grateful that they would do that for me and the art, um, they, uh, they put me in some small art classes when I was a little kid and I just got interested and with the birds I just started painting birds so that, uh, and just, just became a habit, just, uh, keep doing that. I don't know if it's played any role in shaping my life though, it's just something that I do on the, on the side. Um, yeah.


TG: And so, when did you -- 'cause you do it semi-professionally or like professionally now right like you [CL: Yeah, yeah.] get commissions for work, um, when did that turn from being maybe a hobby to something you saw potential in?

CL: Oh. Yeah, I don't actually make much money off that.

TG: Oh, okay. I just saw that like listed on your website and was like, "That's so cool!"

CL: I, I, I don't, uh, I ended up, the great majority of things I end up donating away. So, um, we, for example there, the Houston Audubon Society, uh, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, they'll often run these fundraisers and so I'll donate my painting and then they auction it off, and they get all the proceeds. So, I think in terms of selling, really truly selling an art piece to an individual has really only been like less than a handful. [TG: Okay] Yeah. Everything else I've sort of donated and or painted specifically for someone so 36:00yeah. 'Cause you know I have my day job and it's very, I'm a terrib--I don't think of myself as a business person. A business person would, uh, figure out how to sell it to you. And I have trouble trying to, I can't go to you and say look, "I want you to buy it for you know $400." I would just feel eternally guilty. I feel like it didn't take me $400 [laughs] to paint it. So, so yeah. So, I, I don't make any money off that, um, but I do it, it's fun. It keeps me, uh, busy. Um, yeah, I can keep going but do you have other questions or?

ZC: I'll just go back to this list that we have. [CL: Yeah] So, in your career field are there more Asian Americans now and do you feel like, you're, like, Asian Americans are well represented in the like geology field or, like, even 37:00in, um, academia?

CL: Well, uh, yes and, yes and no. I think certainly in the sciences there are probably more Asians, uh, Asian Americans in the sort of science or engineering. Um, but if you look at, um, yeah, if you look at engineering and, uh, physical and biological science, most of the Asians in that community are, um, uh, foreign born. I am from the group that grew up in the US. There's very few Asian Americans like, uh, second generation, uh, people. In other word they are all going, yeah, I have no idea where they're going. So, there's not that many, but in our department has, uh, there's Lawrence, there's Raj, [inaudible] and myself. So, out of the eighteen faculty there are four Asians which is kind of 38:00lot for, uh, there, and there's five women now and one Hispanic American. So, I think we're doing well on the diversity. Um, and I cou--I think other disciplines may be on paper looking okay. Uh, well certainly gender is not there yet, but it's moving in the right direction. But, but I think even if it were there to where it was representative or whatever, it, it hides, masks some still some inequalities. Uh, just because the numbers may show more women or something like that doesn't mean that the problem is finished or solved. And because there are still sub, subconscious biases and, uh, and I, I pay, I, I really, uh, I pay 39:00attention to a lot of this for all kind of groups, given that, how much crap that I had to go through as, as a kid, I'm like a, I really love being the underdog fighting for the underdogs and, and making sure that, uh, no one else has to go through this sort of stuff I had to go through. But, um, so I'm very well aware as well.

But what I'll do, because it's for the, the, this thing, I'll talk mostly about the Asian American or Asian experiences. Some of the implicit biases and they are very hard to quantify, but, uh, are that, um, that Asians in general are not that creative, we just copy. That is, that is rampant. As an editor, I have seen that bias and I'm sure a number of journalists have seen it and other editors. It's a hard thing to, to fight. You can't -- it's, it's, it's like can you, uh, 40:00you know, at what point can you call it out on somebody but, uh, that's often not constructive either because it's something that they might not know they're doing right? So, they're not bad people necessarily, uh, it's not, it's not like, uh, blatant racism where you can say, uh, stop saying that right and they'll stop. It's something else, it's not a purposeful, uh, bias, and that's, you know. So, on one hand it's even worse. Um, so ther-there's that, there's the issues of, uh, are -- Asians have been looked at for, uh, leadership types of positions, uh, they're not thought to be leaders or, uh, not, certainly not the sort of alpha male in general, uh, stereotype we have of, uh, leaders, um, and 41:00I'm sure that there are things , different types of stereotypes against every race, or gender, and so forth. I think those things have to change. Um, I'll give you an example, um, I guess I'll, I can say this. Uh, you know, as a chair, so I became chair, uh, two years ago, so after fifteen years I became chair. And, you know, I, I feel immense, well, sort of pressure, well, you know, I want to help everyone and, uh, at least try in that, but I also feel a little bit of pressure that how, because I'm the first Asian, sort of first non-White, uh, person in the department to be chair. And certainly, in the whole field of Earth 42:00sciences, not many Asian, uh, chairs. So, there's the pressure of like, "If I don't do a good job, am I going to be blamed because I'm Asian or because I'm, I'm just bad." In fact, I much rather you blame me because I'm bad than just blaming me because I'm Asian because then that affects, I feel, it affects, uh, all the chances of other Asians to be given the chance you know. I don't know if that makes any sense, but, uh, I feel that.

At the same time, I feel, we had, um, you know, when you, you have to make decisions as a chair or as a leader. Sometimes decisions are not, sometimes not everyone will agree with them. You try to build consensus, but sometimes you just have to make some hard decision. There was some things we wanted to change and I remember one, one of the faculty members uh, uh, two times, once he called 43:00me out and he said, "You're, you're like a, you're a dragon lady." And that really, you know, after all these years of helping in the department, and you think by fifteen years that, uh, the evidence is there that all I care about is the department people, that they shouldn't see me as a foreigner or an outsider. I've been here for fifteen years, right? And suddenly someone calls me a dragon lady because maybe I had one hard decision and I don't mind being, uh, you know, attacked again for, or criticized for making a decision that wasn't popular, but it's the, one, it's the use of the word dragon, which is only for, mostly for Asians. Dragon lady, which there is also a gender thing, like, you know, if you're a woman and you made a hard decision just like any male would do they'll 44:00call you, they'll call you a dictator or something or you know. You can't win, uh, so, so I was really upset about that, kind of depressed about that, and then, in another time, he called me, and this guy, um, um, we get along most of the time, but he, he, he called me a, um, like Chairman Mao.

And again, uh, you know, and nobody understood how much that bothered me I think. You can criticize, but he had to use, I mea--uh, just because I'm Asian he picked that. So, again, what is that? Is that racism? Is that, who knows what that is? But, there's a, you get a lot of it, it's called micro-aggressions and you, you get one is not an issue, two is not an issue, but when there's so many 45:00of them, it-it can really be debilitating. For me, you know, I, I, I, at this stage in my life I have enough confidence, it didn't really bother me, I'm just disappointed, that's all. Um, but I worry about others who haven't recaptured their, their confidence, um, so there are a lot of things. And I, you know, anyways, I can go on about a lot of things like that. Microaggressions, uh, in a time where you think most of this should be gone. It's not just Asians, it's against women and, uh, other underrepresented minorities even, uh, even microaggressions against white males, I consider that an issue too, you shouldn't do that, um, so, uh, we're making progress [laughs].

TG: So, you've talked a bit about your experience at Rice, [CL: Yeah] um, what about your experience within like Houston in general? Coming here originally 46:00from like a small town in California and then Berkley and then coming here, how has that been for you?

CL: Yeah, I, you know, I very much like Houston. No place is perfect. When we got here, I, I never thought I would stay, having been in Califor--uh, California and then grad school at Harvard. You get indoctrinated there that Texas is some backwards, uh, area and, and worse, uh, but I have to say, you know, I'm still here and I, um, I love Houston, I love the people. Uh, we have our problems like any big city, but it's very cosmopolitan and people are friendly and people, uh, do integrate better here. Uh, I can't quantify it, it's just having been to all of these places I feel much more welcome here and I 47:00feel, you know, you can go down to -- yeah you have your, uh, Chinatown, you have a place where a lot of Indian restaurants and businesses are, but there's mixtures of stuff in there of different types of, of cultures and, uh, restaurants you can go. There's, um, it's I like it a lot. There's, you know, uh, of course there's, you know, this Hispanic population, African American population, lot of Europeans here. Uh, there are more Norwegians living in Houston than in anywhere in the world besides Norway, apparently. That's what I learned. And we tend to get along, um, that, maybe things have changed, but in California I didn't really feel that, um, and certainly not in New England, uh, so, so I like it here a lot.

Um, let me -- I can go back to one thing that is about the confidence. Um, it's 48:00so important I always feel that every single person builds their confidence because when you have confidence that, you can do more. And it's a tragedy if you lose your confidence. How do you build confidence? Some unfortunately never get the opportunity to rebuild that. And I was very lucky because well I didn't have confidence until I got to here, and suddenly it was like, I became a professor, and then I got to mentor these young kids who were many of whom were going through their own troubles and I would tend to gravitate towards, uh, or I would give it if I see one of the students having a lot of troubles, not just in class but other things, I would say, "Well yeah, just come in, work with me, we'll see," you know. And then you start to realize, uh, we both have problems, [laughs] but I'm older so I got to put mine away for now and help you. Uh, I 49:00mean I don't get deeply involved, because I'm not trained to do that, but just providing them, like I said, um, and someone more senior actually cares about they're, what they're doing. Their value. Um, and when that starts to happen, you start to be able to deal with your own things, uh, much better.

I also found is really, in the beginning, it's just a whole different thing where being kind of on the margins were, I thought, uh, in most cases, I was not really welcome because I was Asian American. Suddenly, I'm in a position where I actually can dictate who should, you know, so suddenly you have every, put every, uh, group is un--teaching. I'm teaching them, and I thought, well, this is it. I'm trying --my goal is to, uh, just be a good person and show them that, 50:00that I'm just like everyone else. Um, that sounds kind of silly, but that [laughs] that's kind of trying to serve as at least that there's, there are Asians here that actually, uh, in positions where you didn't think they could be in, you know, uh, so it normalizes I guess so you don't have the stereotypes anymore. I guess that's what I'm trying to say so you don't, like, second guess like, "That's surprising," you know, and, uh, and that needs to happen in many many places. Uh, again not just Asian Americans, but all across the board so--

ZC: So what advice do you have for young people who are struggling? I know you've said like have a mentor. How do you go about finding a mentor?


CL: Yeah, um, that's hard if you don't have the, um, if you don't have avenues for that, and I know a lot of people don't. Um, and uh--I, I don't know how. I wish I did know. Um, I think it rests on a lot of us who've made it, um, or who are making it and you guys are making it right and you, uh. You got to remember to turn around and be on the watch who may need a little bit of a push. Just a, just even telling them they're doing a good job. I think if more of us did that, uh, that'd be great, but how to help, uh, a kid who's, uh, yeah. I don't know. 52:00That's, that's something, maybe when, maybe after chair that's what I'll do [laughs]. Find, find a way to get to those kids.

ZC: I guess I want to talk about like maybe retaining your like family culture or like [CL: Yeah]. You said like you didn't really learn the language because you kind of wanted maybe wanted to distance yourself a little bit. I don't know if I'm putting words in your mouth.

CL: No, no I, yeah.

ZC: But um--

CL: There's, uh, there's no question I've lost some of that, uh, cul--original culture. I would say when I was young I was even embarrassed to be Chinese. Wondering, "Why should I? Why can't I be like all the, look like all the other kids." Um, I don't think I'm unique in that sense. For that age, kids growing up 53:00there, and I look back and I wish, um, I had some people in my life that told me not to be embarrassed. Uh, so at that time I think, uh, you know, a lot of Asians that come, they were small unit families and they don't have a whole community that, uh, that, uh, bring--that keeps them, uh, close-knit and, uh, proud of their heritage, so I think a lot of people from my generation just kind of wandered. And, uh, so we lost a lot of stuff. But then, you know, I always felt a bit lost like, "Where do I belong?" You know, the times I'd go back to Taiwan. Uh, I'd think, "I should go back there because at least I'll fit in better," but I don't speak the language that well. I've, I've lost some of the culture, so I really don't fit in. I'm not Taiwanese, I am an American. I would say like ninety-eight percent American [laughs] and then the two percent, I 54:00could not go back there, um. It's, it's a funny feeling. It's, uh, in limbo, uh--

Now, my wife I, I met here, um, and she came when she was in her mid-twenties, so she is, uh, she spent more time in Taiwan so she's still more Taiwanese than she is American, but she is, you know, gradually migrating to becoming more American, and so somehow between the two of us I can, uh, we go back to Taiwan and I have it better because she's much more tied. I have better ties and I am grateful for that. Um, they're--my son I don't know what's going to happen to him. He's going to be an American, um, but we will try to train him better in Chinese. Uh, we'll probably have him go to Taiwan more often. He I think is 55:00ultimately going to be American blood, American blood there. But, uh, that's, that's the natural progression. Um, do I feel--'course I still feel an emotional connection to, uh, Asians and, and Asia, uh, like wanting to help Asians, uh, Americans when I can, but also a little bit of trying to help, uh, Asia, China, Taiwan, Japan. I go back there fairly often to give talks and work with people there, and I'm not sure why I do, but I think it's probably because, um, I want to help them rise up too and, uh, sort of gain some respectability, um.


You know, in the scientific conferences, it's very clear what, at the moment the hierarchy, the Western world, um, has the, there, well everything is written in English so that's the hierarchy, and you can feel it, that there is still bias against Asians. One is accent, like you're stupid because you can't speak clearly. Uh, that's, that's often the impression I, I get. Um, and, uh, I want to make sure that they get recognized and not have that, um, that superficial. Because if the tables were turned and you had to give your talks in Chinese or Japanese or Korean [laughs] the world would be very different. So, I think a lot of people don't appreciate how difficult it is for Asians, not Asian Americans, but Asians to work in that, uh, environment. But they're trying, and they have 57:00good ideas too. They're no different than we are here, um, in the capabilities and so forth. So yeah, I'm not sure if that, was where you were getting at kind of--?

ZC: I was just, I think it's a good, a good answer.

CL: Okay.

ZC: Because I was just wondering about like retaining culture, but also like being, I know, Asian Americans usually struggle with [CL: Yeah] like being both Asian and American so it's a very, you know, unique like relationship I'd say.

CL: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we-- The food, um, we, when our family, uh, we, we still eat a lot of Taiwanese food, uh, which could look very foreign to --Taiwanese food is quite different than like, uh--which you'll see in the, the, the Chinese 58:00restaurants in the US sort of thing so, um, you know, so we still do that and I like that. I worry, of course, each successive generation, like my kid will not, will not really not know that for sure. So, I'm probably, um, the last that can hold on to that with, uh, the next generation going on. Um--but yeah. I think we've lost, I've lost a lot a lot for sure. My brother too, um, which is sort of sad but [laughs].

ZC: Um, what's the age difference between you and your brother?

CL: T-Two years.

ZC: Okay.

CL: Yeah.

ZC: Did you feel like you could talk with him growing up? Like, do you think you were going through a lot of the same experiences?

CL: We were going through the same -- yeah that's a good, a good question. We were going through the same experiences, um--You know we didn't talk as much as we should have in high school. I think we talked more afterwards when we were in 59:00college and then now. Uh, I think we both went, yeah, a lot of challenges. You know, I don't know. Psych, you know, psychological depression is quite a stigma by the way in Asian culture. Not, not just Asian culture, but I, I mean, one is like my parents, it's sort of interesting that, I mean I, I was depressed so and like I said about suici-suicide and sort of things like that. But you talk to your parents and since they never -- they, you know, I guess, I don't know the answer, uh, I'm just speculating. It's just that when they grew up, when my parents grew up and stuff, they probably were just struggling so hard just to get food on the table, so it was never an issue of having depression. Um, you 60:00have to get food. And so, it's really a foreign concept, so they never appreciated the sort of thing I was going through. And of course, one could look at it from a, a kind of really outside perspective and say, "Well, you know, the reality is, Cin-ty, you're all depressed, but at least you have food on your table so you're being really spoiled, uh, having kind of first world sort of, sort of problems." Um, so, and I think as a kid, uh, without anyone telling you that, I don't think I realized what was going on. So, in, you know, twenty/twenty hindsight know that was what I--and I don't think my brother understood what was going with himself either. So, we didn't talk about these sorts of things. Uh, and I don't, you know, we were trying to be tough too, actually.

I--well I guess I didn't say in junior high and stuff I, I was getting into physical fights all the time at, at school, being punched and mainly just trying 61:00to make sure I didn't, uh, get back home with, with less punches hit. Again, I never landed a punch myself [laughs]. I was pretty bad [laughs]. It was more about, uh, talking fast and finding a way out to get out of it. Get out of being punched in the face or, or slammed and, or hoping that, uh, and I always felt bad about this, hoping that some other guy would get, would be, today would be, would be bullied more than me so at least I could rest a bit. Which is terrible thing to have to, uh, go through. So, we were mostly, probably, trying to pretend that we were tough, as tough as we can. So, we never really talked about that, but he was going through similar things, but in a different way, and-- So, I was not that great, uh, academically, um, I was just good on the birds, that was it, and some painting, but that wasn't important for academics. But my 62:00brother, uh, was, uh, quite good in the math and physics and all of that, and my, my mother, uh, really pushed him quite hard. She tried to push me too, but I just wasn't very push-able.

But, uh, and so, I think he was struggling with that pressure of having to, to truly excel, uh, while at the same time dealing with Asian stereotypes and dealing with bullying and stuff. Um, and having which I think, uh, perhaps many Asian Americans struggle with is, uh, the achievement thing like if you've been, you've been fighting so hard to, to be the best at something and when you don't make it, it's a big, uh, uh, let-down and stuff and that comes from pressure of 63:00the, the culture. And, um, which is not good because nobody can be the best, uh, and in fact you don't want to be the best so, um, you have to learn to, to be able to fail. And so, he was strug--I believe he was struggling, so his experience was a bit different. He actually had, there were a couple more Asians in his class, so he had some friends. I had no, no Asian friends, so I think, um, and he was also much bigger than I was and much stronger, so he didn't get bullied. He could, he could stand [laughs]. People wouldn't really mess with him. So, he didn't have that, but he had the other, other struggles, but, um, but he probably also went through a period of rage but, uh, but experien--expressed it in a very different way than, than I, than I have, um, so yeah. Um, yeah, what else can I tell you? Do you have any other questions? Or I 64:00don't know if this has been useful but--

TG: Of course! No, I think [CL: Okay [laughs]] it's really great hearing you open up about your experiences because maybe there's lots of other people who have been in your shoes and they might have felt like they were the only ones so.

CL: Yeah and they were afraid to say it. That they had the experience, um, so, you know, I guess, you know, where I am at now as chair, I think part of it is just doing, uh, as best that I can do on, on managing and leading the department but, but there is a part of me that believes so strongly that whatever I do now can, even if it's just incremental, make it just a little bit easier for the next generation in terms of stereotypes. Um, I'm sure I'm still fulfilling some stereotypes, but, [laughs] but I'll try. You know, that's like I, I believe a 65:00lot in, uh, in just making it easier. And I think things, things are not perfect today but they are certainly better than they were twenty years ago. Um, but it's not over. It's like, you know, we had Obama as president, uh, and things have gotten really good, but it's, the, the, it's not over. It's not even close to being over.

TG: We still haven't had an Asian president.

CL: Yeah, and I, you know, I'm not too worried about that, uh, right now, but it's just a -- this is what I say. It's just, just because, you know, and I see the same thing, it's like just because you have Obama as president doesn't mean racism is over, right? Just because you have an Asian American chair doesn't mean it's over or a female leader. It's the biases are still there even if it's better than it was twenty years ago. So yeah, um.


ZC: I guess talking about like how it's changed since you were like growing up, how is media representation of Asian Americans changed? [CL: Oh I] Is it better?

CL: I'm glad, I'm glad you ask, ask that. Uh, boy, you know, it's better, uh, still, still not, I mean we're not represented much in media period so, [laughs] so it's all relative, but it's better, I mean, in the sense that I think my coming of age was watching like "Revenge of the Nerds" right. I don't know if you ever watched -- you guys are too young to have watched that [laughs]. Uh, funny movie, but, but the joke was on the Asian guy, and I remember, uh, he was a major nerd, uh, just incompetent at, at, at everything and socially inept, and I remember when I was with my friends, you know, and they, there's a funny -- the movie was funny, it was a comedy, and they were, then they were just, and my 67:00friends were laughing at this Asian guy, and I just, you know, just feeling as an Asian, it's just, just weird. [laughs] You're laughing. That's me, or it looks like me you're laughing at. So, there was a lot of that in, you know, twenty, thirty years ago. I don't think that is as acceptable anymore. Um, but, you know, man, I was just watching, uh, a Chevy Chase film on the airplane from the 80s and the things that they would allow, the, the amount of sexism, homophobia, racism against -- depiction of African Americans and Asian Americans, um, it was okay in those movies at the time. Today you look at it and I'm just appalled that you can even allow that stuff, but it was, it was the 68:00norm and so people growing up in that time, uh, internalize that, and if you are one of the objects of derision, it certainly doesn't help you, and if you're not one of the objects of derision, you don't understand how bad, uh, it could be.

I also remember, um, the, uh, one of my best friends, uh, this was in, this was in high school. We were up hiking, uh, in the hills behind us and, uh, and, uh, as we were coming down, he kind of asked me a question. Uh, it came out of nowhere. He said, "Cin-ty, there are no Asians at school, how are you ever going to find a girlfriend?" And, and, uh, that's a weird question because what it meant to me was that I, I need to -- I have to stay where I am. Uh, you may be 69:00my so-called best friend, but you still don't see me as, uh, a normal person. I have to stay, stay in my, uh, place and, um, and that scared me. Again, I don't know if, if you guys can relate to that sort of stuff, but, but I've, but throughout my time there have been various things like that. It's been like, um, you, you know, you shouldn't go -- you don't go, don't go join the country club, for example, you know. Uh, you don't belong there. They wouldn't say it that way, but you don't belong there, so, okay, uh, I'll never step into a country club. That's just -- I don't even want to be in that situation. [laughs] To have 70:00that, to, to have that discussion over there. So, uh, there, there are those, uh, I mean if I sat down long enough I could probably think of more, but there's, again those are all little things. Kind of box you in, what you, what you can do so--yeah.

TG: So, I know this wasn't the point of your story, but how did you meet your wife? And is it kind of funny that you ended up with another Taiwanese person?

CL: No, it, it, it wasn't -- I don't think it was funny. Well, I, I met her here at the café and, uh, she might tell it slightly differently, but, uh, and we were, it was just, she was there with some friends and we just somehow ended up sitting together and we started talking and, uh, that's how it happened. And, 71:00and they, they were all, uh, Taiwanese. Uh, I could relate better, uh, so that's why I was drawn to, to them, to that group, and then started talking to them and, uh, so, yeah, that, that's it. That's, uh, and I was looking to, I, I, well, I'm not sure if I was looking specific for anything, but I think I recognized, subconsciously probably, she knew who she was whereas I didn't and, uh, and I needed, I found, uh, I found that to be very important, uh, to me and, uh, so she's been, um, uh critical to everything including my, uh, just personal 72:00growth and finding myself, um, so--it was just chance I guess. I, I don't know. [laughs]

TG: Just fate. [laughs]

CL: Yeah, I guess I got lucky. [laughs]

TG: Aww.

CL: Um, so, yeah, and, and, uh, we-- Yeah, I don--I, I, I can't even think of, uh, you know, how things, how things would have turned out if I hadn't met her, and, you know, who knows what direction I would have gone, but uh, but I think she was the right one, so, yeah. [laughs]

TG: Well, we don't want to take up too much of your time, but do you have any more questions?

ZC: I think we got a, like a good story.

CL: Okay.

ZC: Yeah.

TG: Um, is there anything else you'd like to add though?

ZC: Yeah.

CL: No, not, not really. I think, uh, that's probably enough. [laughs]

TG: Well, thank you.

CL: Thank you very much.

ZC: Thank you.

TG: Yeah, we appreciate it.