The AAPI Community at ASI Speaks Out

On March 16, a 21-year-old man went into three different spas and massage parlors in the Atlanta area and killed eight people, wounding one. Six of the dead were Asian women. Just two weeks later, a 65-year-old Asian woman in New York City heading to church was the victim of a brutal physical attack by a man hurling racial epithets. She was severely injured but survived; the man was taken into custody.

It quickly became clear that there was a festering situation across the country: an increase in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes against members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism recently found that violence increased almost 150% from 2019 to 2020, with 122 reported incidents in 16 of the United States’ most populous cities. At the top of the list was New York, with three incidents in 2019 and 28 in 2020, followed by Los Angeles (seven and 15, respectively).

ASI stands in solidarity with the AAPI community, and condemns all forms of hate crimes. “As part of a years-long effort, ASI’s overall racism and injustice efforts have centered on helping everyone at our company identify and respond to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and beyond,” says Tim Andrews, President and CEO of ASI. “None of those are tolerated at ASI, nor should they be in a civil society.”

ASI is proud to employ members of the AAPI community in many different roles. Here, we feature six who share their sentiments about recent events and where we go from here.

Gianne deLuna

ESP Electronic Editor

As an Asian-American, I haven’t experienced any form of racism, neither at my job nor even in my personal life. Maybe I’m just fortunate at this point, and I’m not naïve to the fact that it’s out there. I feel fine about my future in this community. I think the younger generation often focuses on the negative of humanity. You can always find positive and negative if you look hard enough. It’s what you choose to see. At ASI, employees should be aware of and focus on negative issues when they present themselves. They can act to raise awareness when unjust situations occur.

Gianne deLuna

“I’m proud to be Filipino. We as a race don’t let others bring us down. We always have a lot of love and respect for others in this world.” Gianne deLuna, ASI

Here’s a story that demonstrates my view on this issue: You’re spending a beautiful day with your family. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birds are singing, and you are blessed watching your family experience it all. As you look around, you also see the beautiful grass all around you. You pause and think, ‘If I look hard enough in that grass, I will find worms.’ You decide to get down on your knees and start looking for them. Then you grab a shovel and start to dig. Of course, you begin to find all the worms that you knew were already there.

You have to ask yourself, ‘Why did I dig and search for something that I already knew was there?’ You let it distract you from all the beauty around you. You can find all the hatred and racism in the world if you only focus on those things and nothing else. Like the worms, you can let them remain beneath you. You can understand that they are always there, but you don’t have to dig them up or give them attention. Focus on the beauty of the world and never forget what’s underneath your feet.

I’m proud to be a Filipino. We as a race don’t let others bring us down. We always have a lot of love and respect for others in this world.

Ming Lu

Information Services Architect

With the uptick in violence against members of the AAPI community, I do worry about my parents when they’re taking a walk by themselves, and I’m a bit concerned for my own safety when I play basketball after dark. But I don’t sense any huge changes for our community in the foreseeable future.

Ming Lu

“I do worry about my parents when they’re taking a walk by themselves, and I’m a bit concerned for my own safety when I play basketball after dark.” Ming Lu, ASI

My family is from China, and my favorite aspect of the Chinese culture is the focus on respect and sacrifices for others.

Quynh Nguyen

Financial Analyst

With the recent uptick in crimes against Asian-Americans, especially the elderly, most of my family and friends live in fear for their parents and grandparents. Some of my friends have experienced racial slurs or have been attacked just for walking on the street. Many of my friends whose families own restaurants have suffered a drastic loss of income from quarantine restrictions as well as the unwarranted boycott of Chinese businesses because people were afraid of getting COVID-19.

Quynh Nguyen

“The Asian-American community has always been very silent about the adversities we face. However, recent events have really struck a chord with the younger generation.” Quynh Nguyen, ASI

The Asian-American community has always been very silent about the adversities we face. However, recent events have really struck a chord with the younger generation. Across all Asian cultures, elders are highly respected. So it’s hard to read about elderly Asian-Americans getting attacked and killed, unprovoked, while taking a walk or going to the grocery store.

I think the future is going to look different. The younger Asian-American generation is going to start speaking up more about these issues. On March 25, many of my friends and I attended a “Philly for Solidarity” Rally to stand against Anti-Asian hate. The majority of the attendees were young Asian-Americans. Since the pandemic, many new alliances have arisen to support change and combat hate. Crimes are now being shared online by members of the AAPI community since most of the attacks aren’t being reported on the mainstream media.

Everyone can help by learning about the adversities the AAPI community has been facing since the start of the pandemic and sharing those stories with others. Secondly, everyone should support Asian-owned businesses, many of them small and family-owned.

My family and I are from Vietnam, and I immigrated here in 2001 when I was seven. My absolute favorite thing about Vietnamese culture and what makes me so proud to be Vietnamese is our food. Vietnamese cuisine is unlike any other; there’s so much variety and flavor. I have lot of favorite dishes but something I never tire of are Summer Rolls, often eaten as an appetizer. (Recipe here.) Nothing is cooked in oil, so they’re very light and healthy. Like most Viet dishes, they include herbs, noodles, boiled pork and shrimp. They can be dipped in a peanut or hoisin sauce. My mom has her special way of making the sauce.

Summer rolls

Homemade summer rolls by Quynh’s mother, Huong.

A lot of people know about Pho when they think Vietnamese food, but another staple noodle soup in Vietnam is “Bun Bo Hue,” which translates to “Hue Beef Noodle Soup” (Recipe here.) Hue is a city in Central Vietnam. This soup is so decadent and flavorful, and it packs a punch! It’s definitely a good dish to try if you love spicy.

Bun Bo Hue soup from Café Nhan

Bun Bo Hue soup from Café Nhan, a restaurant in South Philly that Quynh says is famous for its Bun Bo Hue and Pho.

Vietnamese food is great, but it requires so many ingredients for just one dish that I’m intimidated to attempt them. Luckily, you can get really good Vietnamese food for cheap all over Philly. There are hundreds of dishes unique to Vietnam because we’re a culture that connects through our food and I’m very proud of that.

Rachel Ramirez

Freelance Journalist

Rachel, a former Editorial intern for ASI, is now a freelance journalist covering climate, race and environmental justice in New York City. You can find her work at Vox, HuffPost, The Guardian, Grist, Mother Jones and more.

The current environment has been difficult, because it’s one incident after another. My parents are immigrants from the Philippines, so seeing many of the Filipino victims just get kicked and shoved or even slashed in the face hits home. It could easily be my mom, dad, aunts or uncles. The whole situation is also tricky, because while the U.S. is such a multicultural country, we also live in a Black-white paradigm, where other race and ethnicities, particularly Asians, are rendered invisible. I wrote a deep dive story exploring the historical nuances of it all.

The hate, discrimination and attacks against the Asian community are definitely not new. Just look at the beating of Vincent Chin or the Chinese Exclusion Act. It’s only coming to the surface now because it’s been amplified by the recent pandemic-related rhetoric against Asian-Americans, not to mention the aftermath of a major racial reckoning as a result of George Floyd’s death last summer.

Rachel Ramirez

“As journalists, we’re supposed to be objective in telling the news and not be active participants. But how do we remain objective when it’s an attack against us?”Rachel Ramirez, Freelance Journalist

From my on-the-ground reporting, I can tell you that people are scared and emotional. I’m an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, so I hear about many of my colleagues’ experiences reporting on the ground in Atlanta or in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s certainly taking a toll on us. As journalists, we’re supposed to be objective in telling the news and not be active participants in the ongoing discourse, such as joining protests or expressing opinions on social media. But how do we remain objective when it’s an attack against us?

In New York, I’ve been covering several of the protests and one thing I’m witnessing is that the Asian community is ready to break that barrier of invisibility. They’re frustrated and inspired. Lastly, one thing that never gets recognized in history — and it’s a very important one to uplift — is the heartwarming, powerful Asian-Black solidarity movement that exists. They’re helping each other out.

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure about what the future for our community looks like since our country is so divided right now with many issues — but I’m definitely hopeful. There’s also an interesting generational divide within the Asian community, in which many of our parents are immigrants. Because of their immigrant status, they try to be as hardworking and respectful members of society as possible, which is why many of them never actively fought against the discrimination and simply remained silent. But for my generation and the next generation, who are U.S. citizens, I believe many of us are now brave and motivated enough to speak out against the discrimination that our parents and grandparents have faced and continue to face. If that momentum of awakening and solidarity-building continues, and changes in the dominant framework are made, then I see a brighter and more inclusive future unfolding.

If you want to support our community more:

  • Read AAPI authors. Educate yourself about the actual history of the model minority myth, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Japanese internment camps, the Page Act, the beating of Vincent Chin and so many other turning points in which Asians were the victims.
  • Check in on your AAPI friends and colleagues. They’re probably hurting, but are still continuously working. Break out of the stereotypical tropes and narratives that were created for the Asian community (i.e., don’t just think of East Asians in this whole discourse).
  • Recognize that Asians are not monolithic. There are more than 40 ethnicities under the Asian category. While it’s true that Asian-Americans are the wealthiest minority group in the country, they also have the largest income gap of any racial group. Vietnamese-Americans, for example, have a higher poverty rate than Japanese-Americans.

Sisig< and pancit

Sisig and pancit, two traditional Filipino dishes and Rachel’s favorites.

My parents were born and raised in the Philippines. The food and the traditional dances are definitely my favorite aspects of our culture. My favorite Filipino foods are sizzling sisig and pancit. I love the way my dad cooks both dishes. He’s a chef, and mostly cooked Filipino food for us growing up. I like my sisig fried with an egg on top without the liver (I always ask for no liver in restaurants). I just love the savory, citrusy taste, especially when eaten with rice. Pancit is definitely a classic Filipino dish. You can never go wrong. Like sisig, I’m a huge fan of salty/savory food splashed with any limey/lemony/citrusy juice on top. I also prefer it when it’s freshly cooked, not dry. Head here for more Filipino recipes.

I also love to dance tinikling, the Filipino traditional dance with two long bamboo sticks.


Rachel (center) dances tinikling.

Filipinos also have a unique way of addressing and respecting elders, in terms of names and greetings. For example, we don’t call our older siblings by their names. Instead we say, “Ate” to older sisters or “Kuya” to older brothers, and I love that we do that.

Marinette Toledo

Business Data Analyst

My family and friends are getting paranoid about the situation. We’ve always been cautious, but now we’re even more so to ensure that we’re not in an area where anything negative might happen. It’s heartbreaking to learn that there are so many people who dislike other people’s cultures. Our community’s younger generation is more conscious of current affairs, and some are attempting to solve them on their own.

Marinette Toledo

“We need to educate ourselves and our younger generation about the social injustices that the AAPI community faces. We should assist the government in prosecuting these hate crimes.”Marinette Toledo, ASI

As a company, community involvement is one way to help. We need to educate ourselves and our younger generation about the social injustices that the AAPI community faces. We should assist the government in prosecuting these hate crimes; those people who are victims of or who witness these crimes shouldn’t be afraid to come forward and report, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice more quickly.

We were born and raised in the Philippines, and my kids were born and raised in the United States. Filipinos are very family-oriented. That’s one of my favorite aspects of our culture. I also love the Christmas festivities. Our Christmas celebrations start in September. Why? It’s the most anticipated holiday of the year!

Griffin Yeung

Desktop Support Specialist

A lot of my friends and family are starting to be more conscious of their surroundings. We’ve become concerned with being out after dark, and we surround ourselves with more people in case any situations arise. I’m mostly worried for the safety of the elderly and the little ones. I tend to keep them close with me while walking out in public.

Education and awareness will take some time. The general population needs to realize that the AAPI community does have a voice and that when we’re hurt, we say “Ow” too. People who inflict harm on us may think there’s a language barrier, so we won’t report it to the police. But we can speak English well and know our civil rights and our duty to act upon hate crimes.

Griffin Yeung

“People need to realize that the AAPI community does have a voice and that when we’re hurt, we say ‘Ow’ too.” Griffin Yeung, ASI

It’s important to demonstrate that ASI and the promotional industry are listening. I’d like to thank all the companies that create and imprint promotional products with #StopAsianHate or similar messages to continue spreading the word. It helps to inform the populace that these incidents happen and are very real.

We’re from China and Hong Kong. My favorite aspect is the amount of history and culture we’ve acquired over the years. American history mostly spans from when it was discovered to the present day, but our Asian history goes even farther back to when we had dynasties, interactions with western culture through importing and exporting and then on to revolutions and riots. Seeing how or why things transpire or improve in a civilization has always piqued my interest.