Be Useful to Society...to the Chinese Community

from NYC student publication, Harmony, 1970

The distinguished Dr. Calvin Lee, President of Boston University, added a new dimension to the topic of Chinese identity on October 21, 1970 when he spoke to a group of City College students who visited Massachusetts (story in WOW, the Writing on the Wall, under Campus News-CCNY).

"On the identity thing, therefore, is a very tricky business - it's really what you want to do with yourself as yourself and not what you want to do as a Chinese-American... I firmly believe as an educator that the thing you do first is to bring your talents, to the utmost the way you see it ..... I also believe that whatever enterprise one engages in should be useful to society, and I do think that being Chinese, you should be useful and helpful to your Chinese Community. But I don't think..... that sitting here in this room, we should say as, the elders used to say .... 'If you're going to be a lawyer, you're going to be an immigration lawyer, period. ...' It may be more important for you to be a corporate lawyer where you can help expand the Chinese businesses or the Chinese capital into much larger enterprises than only in restaurants. So we've got to broaden the horizons-also of the community-at the same time try to help them..... for those who feel comfortable and wanting to work right within Chinatown and live there, why God Bless them: that's great but don't do it under a kind of a pressure on you. So that I'm standing first for the individual right which 1s unique to the Chinese ethos. You got to remember that I am speaking from that perspective. I am trying to differentiate the Chinese family tradition from the American tradition and we may disagree on that. ..."

Not only does Dr. Lee have a unique opinion on Chinese identity, he also has a unique solution for the problem of juvenile delinquency:

"A number of years ago I ended up sitting next to this wealthy lady and she said 'You know, Dr. Lee, it’s absolutely marvelous - you know, I come from Seattle and we have a lot of Japanese. Why, they're wonderful! You know, there's no juvenile delinquency and whatnot, and I understand that with your race, the Chinese don't have any juvenile delinquency..... I knew that this lady was not actually being too honest with me, so I said, "Madam, you know, it's very easy the way we handle the problem of juvenile delinquency - we simply eat the bad ones."