How to support Asian and Asian American communities at home and on the road
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Racism against the Asian and Asian American communities in the U.S. is nothing new. But since the beginning of the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China, violent acts against these groups have been on the rise, fueled by hateful comments referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.”
Recently, the violence has gotten even worse, occurring everywhere from San Francisco to New York City. However, as entrepreneur and activist Tina Craig notes, “Racial injustice and hate crimes against Asian Americans are seriously underreported.”
For every incident that makes the news, countless go unheard.
To find out what we can be doing to help these communities, we reached out to Craig, who has been using her platform to speak out about these hate crimes, for information on how you can take action in your own community. We also asked our TPG Facebook group for their favorite Asian and Asian American businesses and destinations to support when you’re on the road.
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How can I support Asian and Asian American communities when traveling across the U.S.?
There is no shortage of businesses, destinations and museums to visit on your next trip that can help you learn about and support these communities.
Craig recommends supporting Chinatowns and restaurants in different cities you travel to, as well as Asian-owned businesses. “Every little bit counts,” said Craig.
Nicole LeBlanc recommends the Seattle Asian Art Museum, a “beautiful collection housed in an art deco building, set amongst the greenery of Volunteer Park (which also has a botanical garden and plant conservatory). Both museums feature excellent public programs for both kids and adults (under normal circumstances).”
Miranda Ming recommends the Wing Luke Museum.
And Jade Anderson stressed the importance of helping small businesses as well. “The big places often get the attention, but we also should encourage folks to just check out their local, smaller Asian restaurants, markets, shops … I live in a relatively small county halfway between Seattle and (Vancouver, British Columbia). (I) love Rachawadee Thai, Sarkall’s Donuts & Noodle Soup and Pyung Chang BBQ.”
“Head to Little Tokyo in downtown where you’ll find the Japanese American National Museum,” recommends Marla Jo Fisher.
Rene Webb Miller recommends Little Saigon in Westminster, California. Fisher seconds that, adding “The Asian Garden Mall is fun to wander around and the food court (is) legit! I love Au Lac for (its) delicious vegan food. Brodard Chateau is a vintage upscale place. Seafood Cove is one of the few places that still serves dim sum in carts that come around to your table. Pho 79 has the best pho around.”
LeBlanc also recommends the Crow Museum of Asian Art in the Dallas Arts District, which “has a fantastic permanent collection as well outstanding temporary exhibitions, and it strongly supports working artists by mounting shows and installations featuring them on a regular basis. And it’s free!”
Jamie Williams says to check out the Belz Museum of Asian & Judaic Art. Also known as the Jade Museum, it’s packed with “life-sized jade animals and intricately carved objects made from jade and other semi-precious stones,” according to Atlas Obscura.
Chris Ruegsegger puts in a vote for San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest in North America.
You’ll find art, markets, restaurants, shops and more, all within walking distance. Leujay Cruz says to check out Canton Restaurant, the first Chinese restaurant in the U.S.
“Most people think of the coasts for Asian culture,” says TPG reader Su Chon. “Go see the Topaz Museum, in Delta, and drive out to the remains of the internment camp. The Utah Museum of Fine Arts has one or more pieces of Chiura Obata’s art.”
“South Salt Lake (just outside of Salt Lake City) has a mini Chinatown that has Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai vendors, a K-pop dance studio and a big grocery store. But there are also other small vendors there locally: Southeast Asian Market, Seoul Market, Great Wall, etc.”
Sandy Baker recommends the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum, also known as Kam Wah Chung Company Building, a “state park and a National Historic Landmark that preserves early Chinese culture” in John Day. It’s self-described as the “largest intact collection of Chinese medicine and formulas in the world.”
How can I support Asian and Asian American communities at home?
You don’t have to be on the road to support these communities — you can start now, in your own hometown.
“First and foremost, stop looking at us as if we are a virus. If you’re traveling and seeing an Asian, do not turn away in fear or worse, say anything rude,” says Craig.
Craig also stresses the importance of ending the model-minority myth, a dangerous stereotype that hurts the Asian American community. “Start by educating yourself on the wide Asian American experience. It’s vast, layered and a vital part of the tapestry that makes up this country,” said Craig.
There are plenty of volunteer organizations to get involved with, too. Here are just a few that Craig recommends:
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, an organization that’s been around since 1996, is in 13 cities across the U.S. and focuses on empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls to influence their communities.
- National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance is a national federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander organizations focused on promoting visibility and eradicating prejudice.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice is an affiliation of organizations that advocate for Asian American civil and human rights.
- Stop AAPI Hate is a national coalition addressing anti-Asian hate crime during the pandemic.
“These are organizations with broad reaches that can provide a variety of ways to learn and help,” says Craig.
Whether you’re at home or on the road, it’s also important to speak up if you see racism playing out before you. “Don’t shake your head in sympathy and keep moving. Speak up! Be an ally! Allyship is proactive. The more people spread awareness,” Craig said, “the more chance we have for real change.”
Feature photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images.
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