A very little known fact about me is that I was Miss Los Angeles Chinatown in 1996. For one year, I had the honor of representing the Chinese-American community in Greater Los Angeles, in and beyond the historical and symbolic, 1-square-mile neighborhood that the pageant was hosted in. I was born in Los Angeles, CA to immigrant parents and was raised in a mostly Caucasian suburban neighborhood where I felt quite distant from my ethnic culture. Trying out for the pageant was a way for me to show my paternal grandmother how proud I was of my Chinese heritage, especially since I could barely speak her native language.
During my time as Miss Chinatown, I learned about how thousands of Chinese men who worked on the railroads settled in Los Angeles, and how in 1871, 19 of them were brutally killed in a racial massacre that became known as the Chinese Massacre of 1871. I also had the opportunity to meet community leaders like Judy Chu, who later became the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress, dedicated to empowering Asian Americans. I participated in events that celebrated the diversity of Los Angeles, and as I waved at parades and performed my duties as a pageant queen, I searched for my roots, all the while discovering that the community of professionals, researchers, and computer programmers who power America’s economy, and the frontline essential workers, restaurant owners, and laundromat operators who dedicate long hours to unglamorous work that make American life safe and comfortable, were actually part of the most American story of all. From their home countries, they brought their skills, their food, their culture, and their work ethic to make their new home country better and greater for their families, and thus, their neighbors. In fact, there are 23 million Asian Americans who make up a meaningful part of the American social fabric at all levels, and who help make this the United States of America.
So, when someone says to me today, “Go back to your country!” I say, “I am in my country,” with a deep sadness and understanding that it is this same exclusionary sentiment that has led to violent acts of hate in this country for centuries, and now most visibly and poignantly, toward humans of Asian descent.
That is why we stand with leaders like Congressperson, Judy Chu, to speak out on hate every day, but especially today, March 26, 2021. The Naturalization Act of 1790 was enacted on March 26, 1790 to grant United States citizenship by naturalization to “free white persons…of good character,” and thus excluding Native Americans, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks and later Asians. Hate in any form is unacceptable, and when we remember, when we act, when we make our voices heard, then we can move forward. Therefore, The Little Bra Company will be donating 26% of all sales today to Support the AAPI Community Fund and the Chinatown Service Center in Los Angeles.
With love and gratitude,
For more Asian American Resources:
One Community Effort You Should Know
StandWithAsians — Take a day off from work on Friday, March 26 and use the time to strengthen AAPI community. Learn about Asian American history; support you local AAPI-owned businesses; create, share, and repost your efforts on that day on social media with hashtags #StandWithAsians #StopAsianHate
One Fundraising Effort You Should Know
StopAsianHate — Support the AAPI Community Fund —Donations will support organizations that empower and uplift the AAPI community, with initiatives such as increased community safety and support for those affected by violence. A cross-sectional advisory group of AAPI advocacy and activist leaders including APIAVote’s Christine Chen, Define America’s Jose Antonio Vargas, formerly BLD PWR’s Lacy Lew Nguyen Wright, and Brad Jenkins of RUN AAPI; cultural leaders Phillip Lim, Gold House, and CAPE; the GoFundMe.org board, and the GoFundMe Trust and Safety teams are reviewing organizations to determine which ones will receive grants from the AAPI Community Fund. At this stage, the focus is on grassroots organizations, including, but not limited to organizations listed here
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote — APIAVote
Committee of 100 — C100
Asian American for Equality — AAFE
Media and Advertising
Additional AAPI organizations at: http://reappropriate.co/2014/12/your-2014-givingtuesday-aapi-master-list/