Qian Julie Wang

Chinese-American writer and civil rights lawyer

Qian Julie Wang (Chinese: 王乾) (born July 24, 1987) is a Chinese American writer and civil rights lawyer. She is known of her memoir Beautiful Country, which was published in 2021.

Quotes edit

  • For me, Qian represents the self and the precocious, mischievous child who went from knowing only love and acceptance to living in daily shame and hunger. And Julie represents the pre-teen, teen, and woman who was determined to survive no matter the cost, even if it meant hiding or obliterating her origin story and her authentic self. Both of these names are integral parts of me, and I can no more choose between them than I can between my left and right legs.
  • When I taught myself English on library books in the 90s, it was very difficult to find books that reflected me and my reality. That lack of representation left me feeling even more lonely and shameful. When I expressed that to my mother, she never failed to tell me that I would one day have the power to change that. So, thanks to my mother’s wisdom that vision and dream was always with me. I’m just grateful that it is now a reality.
  • In our undocumented existence, it was unsafe for me to be fully honest about myself and my reality with any other real person. Fictional characters thus formed my safe circle — the place in which I was safe to be my full self. Overnight, I also saw all my loved ones and family disappear, and I didn’t know whether I would ever see them again. The characters of these books filled that void of loneliness, and in their presence I learned that it was natural to be scared sometimes, or lonely. They also taught me the power of storytelling, and of words.
  • The act of processing the memories I had suppressed for decades had freed me to see not just younger me, but the younger versions of my mother and father in their full dimensions. That in turn allowed me to honour everything we had been and had experienced—both the good and the bad.
  • In books, both fiction and nonfiction, what matters is not what happens in the book but how is it is told. By virtue of living, we experience facets of the human experience. How we experience those facets and what we take away from them are both fascinating because they are uniquely ours (because there is no other person exactly like each of us on the planet, and no one who will respond exactly the same way) and because it is universally human. Thus, it does not so much matter what you write about, but how you choose to write and what messages you share. To aspiring writers: I hope you will remember that there is magic and beauty in your experiences and perspectives simply because they are yours.
  • So, what I endeavored to do with my book was to speak heart-to-heart, and the childhood lens allowed me the perfect avenue to do so. My vision for my book was that it might allow readers to feel as if they were getting aboard a train, which would carry them through the terrain of my childhood—through that journey, they would be able to see new sights, yes, but also revisit some of their own experiences and familiar landscape. Through this, I hope, people might start to see that underneath the labels and political divides, none of us are all that different from each other, and that at bottom, we all want much of the same things: safety, community, and meaning.
  • The growth of Asian American pride is heartening. The young generations of immigrants, Asian Americans, undocumented Americans, and Americans of color never cease to give me faith for the future. That said, new changes in the right direction do not necessarily erase previous wrongs and old hurts. Once someone has felt the acute pain of being dehumanized, that experience stays with them. It does not disappear overnight, nor do the barriers that are built into the foundation of our society. To achieve real, lasting progress, we must remember that.
  • I feel that the act of writing the book in itself without even submitting it for publication was transformative. It allowed me to heal because I was revisiting the past with my childhood self but also seeing it through an adult lens. And that’s essentially what you do in therapy – you re-parent yourself. What would you do if you were there with your childhood self? What would you tell that child? And in living through that process, I feel that I have healed a lot of those wounds that had stayed opened for decades. Those scars are always going to be there for sure and I will still have moments of irrational fear.
  • I live in daily gratitude for everything I have now that would have been unfathomable for Chinese immigrants not so long ago. Our lives are built on the shoulders of giants. Honoring their legacy means living up to our privilege and continuing to push the movement forward. My vision for the beautiful country is this: to every new generation, more rights, more equality, more justice.

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