HALTOM CITY, Texas — An Truong knows racism. He has faced discrimination, slights and slurs his entire life. It still happens, even though he's been the mayor of Haltom City for two years now.
"Even now with a Ph.D. in criminal justice, I cannot speak English 100% with an American accent," he said in the Vietnamese accent of his native country.
An accent that, he says, is the first thing people hear and sometimes dismiss when he makes a phone call.
"And once they know you're the mayor?" asked WFAA reporter Kevin Reece.
"Or the district attorney's investigator, then they treat me different," Truong said of one experience while working for the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office. "Yes, it still happens now."
Truong was a Vietnamese fighter pilot. He flew alongside American pilots in the Vietnam War. He's been an American citizen for more than 40 years now. He became a Fort Worth Police officer in the 1980s, and an investigator for the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office.
After that, Truong earned his Ph.D. and went from Haltom City council member to mayor.
But, at age 72, as someone who still experiences anti-Asian bias, WFAA asked for his unique perspective 13-months into the COVID-19 pandemic and as he has watched the events in Atlanta.
"All of us were born just crying, waiting for milk. Nobody had any hate inside their brain. That comes from family, peer pressure or from a friend. You have to treat all citizens equal. The color of you skin doesn't make you to be a racist or a bad person, only your mind," Truong said.
"If all of us sit in same room and turn out the light, you walk around and touch their shoulders, you can't tell if they're black, white, or brown."
"Don't ever look at anything you don't like and you name them or you target them as the enemy," he said, when asked to offer is advice to people who might harbor anti-Asian sentiments. "You will ruin your life, you will hurt your parents, you will hurt your friends, you will hurt your community."
Truong appears often on 1600AM, a Vietnamese radio station in D-FW. Prior to WFAA's interview, he was on the radio preaching patience, tolerance and the art of de-escalation to members of the Vietnamese community.
"How to cool down the anger and how to have the Asian people walk out of confrontation with the anger," he said of any confrontations they might face.
"Everybody has the right to live. Do not be thinking I want to destroy you because you don't look like me."
The part of his American dream that he'd like to be a reality for us all.
As Truong nears the end of his first two-year term as Haltom City mayor, he has decided run again for a second term.