Celebrating Agents of Asian Ancestry: William Wang
William Wang shares experience as an FBI agent of Asian ancestry.
The name is WIlliam Wong. I joined the Bureau in 1966 and retired in 1988. I am born and raised in China, finished high school in Hong Kong and then In the 50’s when I first came to the United States. At that time being a Chinese, there are three professions that you can go to. One is open a Chinese restaurant. Two is do a Chinese laundry. Number three is study engineering, science, chemist—everything dealing with the technical. There is little to no opportunity to study anything else. So I studied civil engineering and somehow I got through it, graduated, and I was the best mediocre civil engineer. In ‘65 when the opportunities broadened and more Asians/Chinese were able to get jobs in other fields, so somebody suggested to try for the law enforcement, join the FBI.
And I went to the FBI office my lunch break, fully expected them to say no thank you and turn around and walk out. Mr. Ken Kaiser handed me an application form and said fill it out. So that’s how everything got started.
In Chinese culture, Japanese culture, Asian culture, law enforcement is not a highly regarded profession. I had an opportunity to sit one-on-one with Mr. Hoover. At that time, we’re allowed to sign up to talk to the Director when you come for in-service. I signed up and I saw him and talked to him for a half hour and one of the questions he was asking me was how come not more Asian-ancestry agents, persons, join the Bureau. So I told him about the culture and he was sort of shocked.
I am a first-generation immigrant. I am a fresh off the boat immigrant. I came to this country, passed the test. Like Director Comey was saying, diversity doesn’t mean race, color, and minority. It’s like Mr. Hoover was saying, you are just coming in, you have to prove yourself that you match the standards. Under Mr. Hoover, you are a special agent or you are not a special agent.
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