Chinese liberal activist Amy Chiou has penned an article in The Charlotte Observer expressing her frustration with people who take pride by saying “I’m a native Charlottean” in being from the city in which she now resides. Chiou writes about how natives look skeptically upon the team of outside political activists she leads in setting up shop in their city:
The first time I heard these words, I was working on a political campaign. People walked into our campaign office constantly to express their skepticism of a team of outsiders. They questioned whether we could win a local election.
Chiou blasts the city’s “system of inequity” and natives of the city who prefer that their way of doing things not be pushed aside by outsiders. Is this unreasonable of Charlotte natives? Chiou seems to think so. She contrasts natives as “people who have a history here” with outsiders such as herself, described as “people who want a future here.” She also writes that pride in one’s home city makes her feel unwelcome, attacking the phrase, “I’m a native Charlottean.”
Personally, when I hear these words, I feel unwelcome. I am reminded of my outsider status. I want to be respectful of history and context and as a result, take longer to offer my ideas. I spend time figuring out how to present solutions in the “Charlotte way.” A few times a month, I think about whether I belong here. And, I’m not alone.
Not only does Chiou demand that natives change their ways to accomodate her and stop expressing pride in Charlotte as their home city, she also admits to working with a group of “young civic leaders” who do not identify with the city but wish to determine its future. She is the executive director of a far-Left group called Queen City Forward.
Last week, I attended a meeting of young civic leaders. As part of our introductions, we were asked whether we considered Charlotte “home.” Only one person out of ten said yes, and yet, collectively, we had contributed so much to making Charlotte a great place. Around a single table were people involved with alleviating homelessness, improving public education, catalyzing entrepreneurship, transforming criminal justice, elevating local politics, developing mentorship and leadership and building community. Professionally, we represented real estate, law, public service, higher education, nonprofit, banking, and tech. And yet, we were hesitant, almost reluctant, to claim Charlotte as our home.
This is hubris, plain and simple. Why should an outsider, especially one who does not identify with a city, have a say in its politics and organization? Imagine the arrogance of penning an article in a major newspaper of such a city detailing all of this and expecting sympathy from readers.
I once lived in a foreign city for a number of years. I knew I was a foreigner there and never sought to undermine the natives’ sense of pride or ownership of their city. I was an outsider, a foreigner. As such, my opinion meant almost nothing there. This is a lesson Chiou appears unable to learn. She questions whether she, a racial alien and Leftist activist who does not identify with a Southern city, belongs in that city. I can tell her without hesitation that she does not belong. It is perfectly reasonable for natives to be upset with her as she tries to change their politics and culture to fit her values.
It is time for Amy Chiou to say goodbye to Charlotte, North Carolina. Shanghai is calling you home, Chiou. It is ruled by the Communist Party, so I know you will feel at home there. And it is populated by Chinese people like yourself, so you should have no problem identifying with it.
As you hopefully pack your bags I’m sure that many people in Charlotte will join me in happily bidding you “ciao,” Amy.