Organized by our strategic initiative group, DEI+I (Diversity Equity Inclusion + Impact)

In support of raising AAPI awareness, members of our firm with Asian heritage volunteered to share their stories for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. They touched on everything from feeling like an outsider to learning from each other and celebrating diversity, even within the AAPI community. We applaud their courage to speak up, and hope it inspires others to do the same.

 

Karen Chang
Karen Chang, Project Manager

 

WDA: What was it like for you growing up AAPI?

Karen Chang: Despite 45 years in SF, being Asian often meant being regarded as an outsider by many who didn’t know my story or background. As I grew older, I realized those assumptions by others were more reflective of their ignorance and fear. My thoughts and experiences are as diverse and unique as the AAPI community in which I live. And I’m very proud to be a part of it and our role in American history.

WDA: What do you think are important actions to combat AAPI hate?

Karen Chang: Amidst the attacks and violence, an emerging and common sentiment expressed by many within the community has been our collective frustrations at having our voices silenced, ignored and dismissed for so long. While education and outreach are key to combating the often sexist and ethnic stereotypes, it is ultimately essential that each of us continue to or begin to speak up and speak out for ourselves and for others.

 

Michelle Chen
Michelle Chen, Job Captain

 

WDA: What was it like for you growing up AAPI?

Michelle Chen: I came to the US when I was 11, and in trying to quickly learn the language and adapt to American culture, I spent a lot of time absorbing and assimilating to American society, and in-turn rejecting a lot of my Asian culture. It was very confusing because of the mixed sentiments towards various Asian cultures, which made it easier for me to justify my distancing from it.

While I have been working on getting more in touch with my culture, and take a lot of pride in the rich history of China, the current climate with the pandemic and the rise in racism does bring back a lot of the confusion again.

WDA: What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

Michelle Chen: I hope AAPI Heritage Month will inspire people from all cultural backgrounds to reach out and learn more about each other, as diversity is what makes other people interesting. Food can be a great way to experiencing different culture. I will definitely explore different Asian restaurants and try out food that I’m not familiar with as a way to also support local Asian businesses.

 

Phoebe Lam
Phoebe Lam, Director of Operations, Owner

 

WDA: What does the “AAPI experience” mean to you?

Phoebe Lam: There is no single AAPI experience. So many different cultures and heritage are represented in this group. Being a first-generation Chinese American has its unique set of challenges; enduring racist comments, microaggression, and full-on physical assault to name a few. Through all the pain and frustration, I have found the AAPI experience to be unique and soul-enriching. Having the opportunities to know, befriend and learn from those within the diverse AAPI community and other racial communities has helped me grow as a human being and widen my perspectives about life.

WDA: What do you think are important actions to combat AAPI hate?

Phoebe Lam: Supporting each other, raising awareness and increasing political engagements and representation are actions we can all take to combat AAPI hate. On a larger scale, increasing cross-cultural understanding, support and unity are vital to combating ignorance, scapegoating, hate and racism. Minority groups may experience racism and its harm differently, but we can show up for each other in our fights to rid our country of racism and hate.

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