Submitted on Tuesday, 6/28/2022, at 2:15 PM

The author was interviewed as part of a June 20 PBS NewsHour segment noting the 40th anniversary of a notorious crime: the 1982 killing of Detroit-area resident Vincent Chin by two white men, which “marked the first time discrimination against an Asian American person was treated as a federal civil rights offense.”

“[R]right now, it’s probably one of the worst times to be Asian or Asian American in the United States,” Lee tells interviewer Amna Nawaz, citing the more than 11,000 incidents of anti-Asian hate reported since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. She describes Chin’s tragic death as a galvanizing event for Asian American identity and political action.

Lee acknowledges “the extraordinary debt that Asian Americans, as well as white women, all oppressed minorities in this country, have for the African American civil rights movement.” She also discusses her efforts as a writer—in novels such as Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko—to depict Asian characters as individual human beings, because “we can feel empathy and sympathy for human beings. And that’s a very important role of storytelling.”