MAY: DID YOU EAT YET?

Yellow and orange graphic with fun starburst designs. Jenny Zhang, an East Asian femme person with black hair smiles from a circle. Katrina Eames, a white passing person with curly brown hair smiles also from a circle. Top right corner is API PA logo. Bottom left says: Jenny Zhang & Katrina Eames.

Hi Friend,

This is Jenny Zhang, API PA’s Philadelphia organizer, and Katrina Eames, API PA’s digital organizer, from the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA), Pennsylvania’s first and only statewide political organization directly advocating for the needs of Asian Pacific Islanders in Pennsylvania led by and for our communities. For us, it’s also that being Asian American is a political identity. We organize in so many communities, with different ethnicities and histories, and in 15+ languages. We want what’s best for all of our people. We work across language, ethnicity, class, and more – so that all of our communities can get everything we need to thrive. 

 

Right now, we’re working to save Philadelphia’s Chinatown!

Photo of a No Arena in Chinatown rally. An older East Asian person with glasses speaks to crowd. They have a mic in their hands and a phone in the other. there are people in the back holding signs reading No Arena and Save Chinatown.

What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?

This May is the first Asian Pacific American Heritage Month since billionaire developers announced that they wanted to build an arena on the edge of Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Philadelphia’s Chinatown community has always fought for the right to exist. The neighborhood has been split in half by a highway, limited by a convention center and mall. But the community here has worked together successfully to fight off predatory development like a baseball stadium and a casino. 

For months, we’ve been fighting alongside Chinatown residents to preserve Chinatown. And it takes all of us – Chinatown business owners, organizations, visitors – to protect this cultural hub.

Yes, we’re taking the time to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month. But it doesn’t feel different or extra special because of that. This is what we do. It is what we will continue to do next month, next year, and for the rest of our lives

What does it mean to fight to preserve historic Chinatown during this moment? 

Jenny: Growing up, going to Chinatown with my Chinese immigrant parents was one of my favorite things to do. I felt safe to be myself there and fully accepted as I built community in the area. Now I’m working hard to protect a neighborhood that has always felt like home. 

Katrina: When I was 12, I moved to Pittsburgh to live with my mother and became connected with the blind and Thai communities in the city. There were always signs of an old Chinatown in Pittsburgh, but it wasn’t here anymore. So I was curious about what happened. As I grew into adulthood, I learned that Pittsburgh’s historic Chinatown was destroyed to build a highway. I don’t want to see communities get broken up like that ever again. 

Poster of a No Arena in Chinatown illustration featuring the gate to Chinatown. Text reads: Our city is not for sale. Join the fight! there is a QR code and website: apipennsylvania.org/chinatown

Here’s why we need to protect Chinatown, directly from Chinatown residents, to Philly city officials. And don’t miss out on this beautiful Save Chinatown poster created by 18MR’s Communications Designer, Brenda Chi.

Screenshot from a YouTube video. Image is of a petition drop. There are people standing holding signs reading No Arena. One person in front is standing behind boxes of signatures.

Our coalition just delivered our Save Chinatown petition with 15,000+ signatures to Philadelphia City Hall to preserve Chinatown. Along with your signatures, we also hand-delivered thousands of postcards to City Council members from their constituents asking them to oppose the arena. And guess what? You can look pretty fashionable in those postcards.

 

And if you want some music to go along with the fashion show, pop on No More Wrecking Balls and strut that walkway.

Photo of a city council meeting. Two elderly East Asian people sit, one person holds a mic and is speaking. There is a masc person wearing glasses and a No Arena tee kneeling next to the elderly couple. There are several people in the back, both standing and sitting.
Image reads: Stop Cop City. There is an illustration of a tree breaking a cop car in half.

Developers seem to think they can just walk in and destroy our communities whether that’s Chinatown or the Weelaunee Forest. Atlanta Police Foundation, Mayor Andre Dickens, and contractors are tearing down the forest to build a facility that would train cops from around the world. Militarizing is not the answer. Here’s how you can join the Month of Solidarity this May.

Illustration of Alice Wong. She's smiling and wearing a tiger-striped shirt. There are two cute tigers drawn on her shoulders. They each have a mochi muffin in their mouths. The drawing is over a collage of Year of the Tiger, Alice's book.

May being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month means it’s been hella busy. So ICYMI: 

 

Thank you for joining us this month!

With gratitude, love, and solidarity,

Katrina Eames & Jenny Zhang, API PA + Irma, Bianca, Turner, Sharmin, Charlene, Kari, Leyen, and Brenda – the 18MR Team

P.S. If you’ve enjoyed reading our monthly newsletter, would you chip in $5 so we can keep inviting rad guest editors?

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