Heroes of the Front Lines
April 9, 2020 7:23 AM EDT

Dr. Chen Fu, 31, is a hospitalist at NYU Langone Medical Center

As an Asian-American doctor, it’s tough to reconcile being both celebrated and villainized at the same time. My parents, who live in Southern California, have been calling me every day. My mom says that she can’t sleep unless she hears from me every night, which I totally understand. But the truth of the matter is, I’m worried about them.

My mom works as a clinical laboratory scientist at a major hospital, and her car was broken into. Nothing was taken. But my mother has been talking with a lot of her Asian American friends, and the same thing has been happening to a lot of them.

The other day, I got stopped in the subway and one of the passengers started screaming racial slurs at me. I was dressed in scrubs and it was pretty clear that I was on my way to the hospital. Luckily, somebody stepped in and pushed him away and said, “No. You can’t do this.”

Courtesy Chen Fu

At 7 p.m. every night, I sit and listen as people across New York City cheer the health care workers. At the same time, I read the news about how people of my ilk are experiencing tensions that they haven’t experienced in modern history.

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The only thing that really keeps me going is the kindness that everybody’s been showing me and everybody in the healthcare profession at this time. People who reach out, who buy me a meal, the people who let me know that they’re there for me across the digital line.

When all of this started, the first thing my parents told me was, “Don’t be a hero. But I know you’re not going to listen to me.” They know me too well—I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. —As told to Diane Tsai

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