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AAPI Heritage Month: Locally Owned Asian Businesses Giving Back

The myth of ‘the other’ is one of the most dangerous lies American racism has inflicted on us. Rather than celebrate the enriching variety of our various cultures, it brainwashes us to find fault and to dismiss each other’s humanity. For those of us who are BIPOC, the myth of ‘the other’ has devastating effects, such as dividing communities, erasing heritages, and costing lives. The global COVID-19 Pandemic didn’t create hate against Asian Americans — that has been a part of this place since the colonizers landed — but it did magnify the horrific consequences of ‘othering’. And yet after every trauma America has hurled at Asian Americans, and BIPOC communities, we are stronger together. Nowhere else is our shared humanity more visible than in our need for nourishment, for healthcare, for clothing, and for self-determination. That is why idobi is standing up and shouting about these Asian American businesses, who do the work to make our lives better in local communities. We see you. We hear you. We fight by your side. And you have our support.
–Sherin Nicole, idobi creative director

Chef Roy Choi 

Image via Las Vegas Review

We love seeing people take a risk. Especially when that risk involves helping other people. Chef Roy Choi has done exactly that over the course of the pandemic. Choi has a renowned restaurant in Las Vegas but now he’s using his resources to provide free food to those in need while facing COVID. He uses his Kogi BBQ food truck to host free food drives around the Los Angeles area. He went into this venture with no business plan, just the hope to help people. His most recent food drive was this past February in Long Beach, CA. He says he will continue to do the drives, until he is able to form a nonprofit with the same goals in mind. 

On his Instagram Choi said, “The lack of accessibility and affordability, especially in food, nutrition, and healthcare…make the divide even deeper. I don’t have all the answers… But on the streets, feeding, you can’t tell me nothing. Invincible. Because the only thing I answer to is the truth and our collective unity.”

You can donate to support the cause here


Patrick Mock 

Image via New York Times

We have all seen the struggles our essential and frontline workers have to face, keeping our world going while risking their own health. Along with that, the homeless and elderly have had their own safety at risk, not having access to resources to protect them. People like Patrick Mock are doing what they can to help provide some relief. He is leading the charge out of his bakery, 46 Mott Bakery, to provide free meals to those in need in New York City. Along with other volunteers like New York State assemblywoman Yuh-line Niou, activist Karlin Chan, and district leader Jenny Low, together they work out of 46 Mott Street and hand deliver food to those who need it. The chef, Tony Chen, cooks 150 of these hot meals a day. As of earlier this month, 3,200 meals have been given out. Support them by donating via Venmo (@mott-46). 

Made in Chinatown 

Harry Trinh via Garnish Magazine, Photo by Stephen Meyer

There are a lot of different needs that stem from the pandemic. Made in Chinatown is filling one of those needs by providing a service that allows small business owners in New York City’s Chinatown to create free custom-made merchandise to supplement their incomes. A team of designers was put together, led by Harry Trinh, to bring merch designs to life for small businesses. Every single one of the designers donates their time, outside of their own jobs, and creators get to keep every bit of revenue they make from their merchandise. The program also works to dismantle the negative stigma attached to products with “Made in China” tags. Their efforts are an incredible example of the good in the world. Support the small businesses here. 


Huge Ma via The New York Times, Photo by Amir Hamja

Anyone else get overwhelmed trying to get your COVID-19 vaccine? If you follow @turbovax on Twitter, they will notify you about appointments available in New York at government-run sites. The site and Twitter account were made by software engineer, Huge Ma, who created TurboVax on his own time outside his job for AirBnb. After realizing how difficult it was to find his mother a vaccine, he decided to find a way to help. All updates are made in real time, making sure you don’t miss a beat. You want to know what makes us love TurboVax even more? They use their incredibly useful platform to spread awareness of anti-Asian racism. Their call to action is to educate yourself on the rise in anti-Asian hate and then help end it. Both of their efforts are pressing and needed. You can find their resources here

312 Fish Market in Chicago

Jackson Chiu is building a strong sense of community in the midst of a painful time. He is the owner of the 312 Fish Market in Chicago’s Chinatown and uses what he has to serve the elderly Asian community around him. For the past three months, he’s been starting his week by delivering high quality food to the elders’ homes, including fruits, veggies, and buns from 88 Market Place and the Chiu Quon Bakery. Chiu has helped ten seniors weekly over the past few months. All of the donations have come straight from his own pockets. Sometimes it takes a story like this to help us realize that what we and those around us have is enough to make a difference.

Eric Sze / “Enough is Enough” Campaign

Image via Eater

An attack on an elderly Asian woman in New York City earlier this year was the push for Eric Sze, owner and chef at restaurant 886, to create the #EnoughisEnough campaign. He gathered a number of restaurants, joining forces to provide food for the elderly Asian community and others who were unable to shop in NYC’s Chinatown due to threatening factors like the attacks on Asian people and Coronavirus. 

“Enough is Enough” restaurants include: 886, Saigon Social, Ho Foods, Nguyen Coffee Supply, Madame Vo, Di An Di, Nowon, Junzi, Win Son, Fish Cheeks, Double Chicken Please, Essex Pearl, Southeast Asia Food Group, Patisserie Fouet, Mala Project, Rai Rai Ken, Potluck Club, Aqua Best, Bessou, Very Fresh Noodles. They’ve raised over $76,000 thus far and have started to provide virtual cooking classes. To get involved and help their initiative, find more information here


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