Last week I was shopping for groceries and preparing to hole up at home with my wife, Evelyn, and our two boys. There was an eerie, peculiar aura in the parking lot in upstate New York as night fell and shoppers wheeled out essentials and snacks.
Three middle-aged men in hoodies and sweatshirts stood outside the entrance of the grocery store. They huddled together talking. One looked up at me and frowned. There was something accusatory in his eyes. And then, for the first time in years, I felt it.
I felt self-conscious — even a bit ashamed — of being Asian.
It had been years since I felt that way. I grew up with semi-regular visitations of that sense of racially tinged self-consciousness. It didn’t help that I was an awkward kid. But after adulthood, marriage, a career, parenthood, positions of leadership and even a presidential run, that feeling had disappeared — I thought.