Recent anti-Asian bias and physical violence during the COVID-19 pandemic has again ignited a national dialogue on racism in the United States. Targeted individuals have primarily been those of East and Southeast Asian descent including China, Vietnam, and Korea.
Although a microcosm of society, the military services are not immune to racism and racial bias. Approximately 5% of the nation’s military forces are comprised of those of Asian descent. In the Navy, the number is even smaller, but the issue is still of concern, though the Navy has quickly moved to address it. Navy Lieutenant William Xu shares his personal journey overcoming ethnic bias as an immigrant son, to serve as a proud member of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG).
LT Xu is a first-generation immigrant from Ningbo, China. He pursued engineering in Rochester, New York, followed by law at American University in Washington D.C. Prior to joining the Navy, he worked on international law issues at the American Red Cross, and served as a public defender in Brooklyn, NY. In 2018, he earned a direct commission into the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. He attended Officer Development School and Naval Justice School in Newport, RI, before reporting for his first tour of duty in San Diego, California. While in San Diego, he served as staff judge advocate for Submarine Squadron ELEVEN, and supported deploying sailors while underway with the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). In 2021, LT Xu reported to Bahrain for his second tour of duty as the Branch Head of criminal defense services in Bahrain. His office provides legal services to sailors, marines, and coast guardsman across the entire CENTCOM (Middle East) area of responsibility.