Each year, I take the time to reflect on the promises, lessons, and ideas I want my two young daughters to learn when they are older.
As Asian American parent, husband and business owner, I wrote a letter for fathers day – encompassing a lot of these things – that I can’t wait to share with my children one day:
Dear Polar and Ceboline,
Last year and 2021 (so far) have been incredibly difficult. A global pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people, made millions sick and affected the daily lives of billions of people.
We are also experiencing historic social unrest, sparked by long-standing racial injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement runs deeper than anything I have known in my life.
These events have changed the way we live, work, learn and relate to each other. So here are some valuable life lessons that I hope you will consider when you get older:
1. Your mom and I will never stop fighting for the fairness everyone deserves – and you should commit to doing the same.
When I was growing up, my family and I didn’t have the open dialogue about race and human rights that your mother and I have with you today. We also did not participate in marches. Your grandparents were Chinese immigrants whose aspirations were more focused on survival.
When you are old enough to have your own children, I hope you look back with deep gratitude for my and your mother’s commitment to raising anti-racist daughters.
2. Always look for opportunities to grow as an individual, both in your personal and professional life.
Beyond family, there are broader cultural forces that will continue to shape your lives and worldviews, and I increasingly see the positive and amplifying role they can play. The most obvious? Technology and social networks.
I hope you will join these conversations – not just to participate, but to grow. Look for diverse points of view. Find ways to educate yourself. Recognize the risk of “echo chambers”.
3. The conversation will always be just the beginning.
Starting a conversation makes a huge difference. But taking action is the norm, in part because there are fewer barriers today. It’s so much easier to find and support causes you believe in. Advocacy and giving resources, for example, are just a click away.
The past few months have been particularly difficult for Asian Americans. Long-standing issues of discrimination and racism against us have come to the fore.
4. Amplify your voices, share your stories and listen to the stories of others as well.
At an alarming rate, Asian Americans have been physically and verbally assaulted. (Remember when you asked why a guy was yelling at us at the mall? He was blaming us for causing Covid-19.)
If these events made me sad, they also motivated me more than ever. I’m starting to understand the power of using my voice and sharing my stories. I spoke on panels, attended more listening sessions than I can count, and tried to educate myself better and educate myself better.
5. You are not only an ally of the communities around you, but also of yourself.
In both of you, I already witness a deep appropriation of your identity and an abundant sense of self-worth – far more than I had at your age.
Your support and pride in Asian culture amazes me every day. When I got home to find you both working on this poster (uninvited), I was filled with pride … and a little bit of sadness.
Your passion, your energy and your commitment make you an ally of all the communities around you. But as you grow older and the pressure from society to comply intensifies, never forget that you are your own ally too.
Don’t let your support for others overshadow the progress you want to make for your own community. Teach yourself and others about the richness of your culture and history.
Find ways to proudly stand up for and defend all members of the larger Asian American and Pacific Islander community. As with every dimension of your voice, the world will become a better place to hear it.
Marvin chow is vice president of marketing at Google, where he leads marketing for some of the company’s most important and strategic products, including search, maps, Chrome, photos and messaging. He also oversees global social media efforts and advises on some stealth products. Marvin and his wife JiYoung live with their daughters, Polaire and Ceboline, in California. Follow him on twitter @theREALmarvin.
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An earlier version of this article originally appeared on Way.