Helen Zia

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Helen Zia (born 1952) is a Chinese-American journalist and activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights.


  • There is a saying that an injustice to one is an injustice to all. No one is truly equal and free until everyone is equal and free. When a society allows anyone to be treated as less than equal and therefore less than fully human, we not only rob those people of their full humanity, we also become complicit in their mistreatment. Sometimes people think they can look the other way as long as “their group” isn’t harmed. But that is an illusion because we are all connected by our humanity, and as history has proven over and over again, harsh and autocratic power will inevitably spread like cancer to maintain itself…
  • U.S. history and China's history are very, very deeply - and in a complicated way - intertwined with each other over a few hundred years. And so there were times when that relationship was fraught with tension. But there were also times of great friendship…
  • My primary identity as a kid was being rejected by American society—because you’re from another country, you can’t possibly be American—and my parents’ identity more as being Chinese, so I saw myself as Chinese…
    • On her Asian American identity in “HELEN ZIA” (Asian American Reproductive Justice Oral History Project, 2013)
  • A lot of Asian American parents are sort of like, Oh, Why’d you stick your neck out? You’re really going to get—you’ll be the nail that sticks out, then you’ll get hammered down. You’ll bring trouble to yourself and to your family. And you know, that’s not really the way it works. It’s really the more you speak up, the more possibility [you have] for making a difference, for making a change, instead of suffering in silence. It’s the only way—especially in a democracy—it’s the only way to improve conditions in your community, to make it better…
    • On her journalistic work in “HELEN ZIA” (Asian American Reproductive Justice Oral History Project, 2013)

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