Andrew Yang has had his unpleasant share of bullying as a child.
In a recent interview with U.S. attorney Preet Bharara for his podcast “Stay Tuned With Preet,” the Democratic presidential hopeful recalled getting picked on for his heritage throughout elementary and junior high school — and how such experience shaped him as a grown man.
According to Yang, Asians back in his childhood mostly heard references to Long Duk Dong of “Sixteen Candles” and the line “that’s the way the gook laughs” from the 1986 film “Platoon.”
“There’s this one kid who’d just say that to me all the time,” the 44-year-old said, according to HuffPost. “As the skinny Asian kid getting picked on, I felt like my choices are to either take it or fight back.”
Yang admitted that he lost most of his fights. But instead of being upset, he felt anger, which ultimately became his motivation for change.
“They called me ‘chink,’ ‘gook.’ I knew when someone bullied you, you had to take it if you didn’t fight back. So I always fought, and I always lost,” he told Sing Tao Daily last year. “This didn’t make me sad. It made me angry. I told myself I have to prove to the bullies that I can make it.”
Yang said that his teachers did not get involved much in his fights. Bharara, who was also bullied as an Indian American, recalled little support, too.
“I felt myself to be that marginalized Asian kid throughout my entire life,” said Yang. “Whenever there’s a gathering of people, when I notice someone who’s out of place, I would naturally gravitate towards them.”
The presidential hopeful describes his experience of getting bullied further in his book, “The War on Normal People,” which hit the shelves last year.