On a personal level, one of the biggest changes for me has been how I view issues of race. I’ve spent the bulk of my life avoiding race. My first name is German, my last name is Italian and I was born in Seoul, South Korea — I’m adopted. I grew up in a very rough part of upstate New York where I was taunted and at times beat up by kids because I was (and looked) different. On some level, I was conditioned through this treatment to believe that being different was a bad thing and so I avoided it.

I’ve spent the bulk of my life rejecting my Asian-American heritage. Quite frankly, as a Republican, this was very easy to do. The Republican Party’s attitude toward anyone who isn’t white speaks for itself. Why would I want to even pursue an association as a “minority” in a political party that spouts hateful rhetoric about minorities and pushes policies that discriminate against anyone who isn’t white? It was a pretty cowardly attitude considering how many have brave enough to take a stand and fight for minority rights and confront social injustice.

But once I stepped away from the Republican Party, its efforts to promote racism through rhetoric and policies offended me on a very personal level.