Did You Eat Yet? Feb 2024

Featuring 18MR’s Communication Designer, Brenda Chi!

🎨 Hey y’all, I’m Brenda Chi (she/her, Queer Chinese-Vietnamese), based in sunny Los Angeles, CA! I’m the Communications Designer for 18 Million Rising – so if you’ve seen any graphics or illustrations, I made it! Outside of 18MR, I am an illustrator, I run a figure drawing workshop, and I’m a community member trying to Stop the Gondola in Chinatown.

I was born in the SGV (IYKYK, or watched The Brothers Sun), which is the San Gabriel Valley (Gabrielino / Tongva land)! I grew up in a Chinese and Mexican community, where everyone was either an immigrant or child of immigrants, being bilingual was common, and of course, the food was so good!

🐉 恭喜發財! Happy Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year, 春节, Seollal, Tết, Losar and those who celebrate!). I have childhood memories of our dinner table covered with decadent dishes. We’d light incense at the altars and I’d help my Dad burn joss paper as we pray to my grandparents and Gods for a good year of wealth and health. Oh yeah, and the Red Envelopes (红包) that I’d get!

This year, I went to Guangzhou (广州), China to celebrate CNY with family. Visiting China was quite the experience: I learned how to use a squat toilet and WeChat. I fumbled as folks tried to speak in Mandarin to me and had a hard time looking for clothes that fit my fat body. I had fun eating food that I can’t get in the States, like amazing Durian pizza and seeing historical sights that felt surreal. As an ABC (American Born Chinese), it’s a trip I’m glad I had.

I saw locals celebrate with fireworks, literally going off outside their apartment. It was a great moment to see Asians across the diaspora bring in the new year, but the celebrations felt wrong because there’s a genocide happening. The sound of explosions echoed in my room, and I thought about how the Palestinians are fleeing, hurting, hearing destruction in their rooms. In Palestine, there is no space to celebrate the new year, just survive. I wondered how all of this could happen at the same time.

This year is the Wood Dragon, known for its prosperity, innovation, and creativity. Jonathan H. X. Lee says this year in the long-term “could also be the year in which major conflict can be resolved, if people can focus on empathy.” We are seeing a global uprising against the genocide of the Palestinian people, and with the protection of the Wood Dragon, we can end the occupation!

I wanted to make art to validate the Asian American experience. As much as we’d like to say we are “not like our parents,” we, as Asian Americans, tend to shy away from vulnerable conversations and art can fill in the gaps that are unspoken. Being a cultural worker means to inspire the community to move into action. 

When the pandemic started, I worked in Chinatown and saw businesses closing down. Only a small number of people attended the historical 2021 Golden Dragon parade, and it wasn’t because people wanted to be safe from COVID-19, because people were still going out in LA. It was because of the racism towards my community, spurred by toxic, alt-right anti-Asian hate and narratives. A customer told me that when he invited his friend to go eat in Chinatown, his friend asked, “but won’t we get COVID there?”

I felt helpless and took those emotions into my art. I created paintings of Chinatown and focused on the legacy businesses like Hop Woo, Sincere Imports, iconic structures like the now-empty Hop Louie, and the pink building that was once Hong Kong Cafe (which is now a gentrified mocktail bar). Through my work, I met other Asian American artists, business owners, and chefs who also love LA Chinatown. 

In 2023, I had a solo show called, “Missing You In Chinatown’at the Leiminspace gallery in Chinatown. It featured my paintings and installations, addressing the gentrification taking over the neighborhood. I hoped that if people saw my art in a gallery, they might look at Chinatown as a beautiful work of art too. Maybe they’ll go to eat at a legacy restaurant and buy something at the soon-to-close Dynasty Center. Maybe we can work together to SAVE CHINATOWN.

Because LA Chinatown has another threat to the community: THE GONDOLA. 

LA Metro’s Board of Directors approved a billionaire’s project to build an aerial gondola over the LA State Historical Park and surrounding neighborhoods. The “development will lead to more displaced local businesses and residents in Chinatown, Echo Park, Solano Canyon, La Loma and Bishop – who have already experienced tremendous gentrification.” (StopTheGondola.org) This $500 million dollar project removes 81 precious trees from the park, and forever alters the beloved Chinatown greenspace. It falsely claims that it reduces greenhouse emissions. Instead, it will cause more issues with traffic and parking. And the taxpayers of LA could end up footing the bill.

LA folks, here’s how you can help STOP THE GONDOLA:


Since October 7, I’ve been joining Asians across the country to organize our political leaders to call for a ceasefire and end all military aid to Israel. Congresswoman Judy Chu is the head of the Congressional Asian American Caucus, her political career started in the SGV and my family are life-long constituents, so I wanted to find my community and work together to have her hear us. Through the power of social media, I found a group in Pasadena who have held weekly vigils at her office, providing a family-friendly space for protest, chalk art, sign-making, interfaith prayers, and grieving. 

At these vigils, I met people who lost family in Gaza and folks born in the West Bank and Gaza who recalled how the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) monitored every move in their lives. They spoke about the terrors and fears they live with under occupation – how they could’ve been shot if they did anything the apartheid state of Israel deemed “wrong.” We hosted an event called “Kite Flying for Palestine” at the beach with kites that said, “Free Palestine.” Children and adults learned to fly a kite, and paid homage to the tradition of Palestinian children who filled their skies with kites, a metaphor of their dreams of liberation. We stared into the sea and skies, the ones we share with the people of Gaza. We cheered, “Free Free Palestine!” I hoped our cries and hearts could be felt in Gaza. 

Despite the U.S. veto on the UN Resolution for a Gaza Ceasefire (again), our community keeps fighting, with determination to organize against U.S. imperialism and bring more allies into the cause. The Palestinian people need our endurance and we have to keep making noise! Annoy TF out of your government officials as it is your right to – it’s our U.S. tax dollars going to war and occupation! (And thank those who already support Palestine.) 

Since October 7, I’ve been joining Asians across the country to organize our political leaders to call for a ceasefire and end all military aid to Israel. Congresswoman Judy Chu is the head of the Congressional Asian American Caucus, her political career started in the SGV and my family are life-long constituents, so I wanted to find my community and work together to have her hear us. Through the power of social media, I found a group in Pasadena who have held weekly vigils at her office, providing a family-friendly space for protest, chalk art, sign-making, interfaith prayers, and grieving. 

At these vigils, I met people who lost family in Gaza and folks born in the West Bank and Gaza who recalled how the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) monitored every move in their lives. They spoke about the terrors and fears they live with under occupation – how they could’ve been shot if they did anything the apartheid state of Israel deemed “wrong.” We hosted an event called “Kite Flying for Palestine” at the beach with kites that said, “Free Palestine.” Children and adults learned to fly a kite, and paid homage to the tradition of Palestinian children who filled their skies with kites, a metaphor of their dreams of liberation. We stared into the sea and skies, the ones we share with the people of Gaza. We cheered, “Free Free Palestine!” I hoped our cries and hearts could be felt in Gaza. 

Despite the U.S. veto on the UN Resolution for a Gaza Ceasefire (again), our community keeps fighting, with determination to organize against U.S. imperialism and bring more allies into the cause. The Palestinian people need our endurance and we have to keep making noise! Annoy TF out of your government officials as it is your right to – it’s our U.S. tax dollars going to war and occupation! (And thank those who already support Palestine.) 

We’re mobilizing as Asians for Palestine, joining MPower Change to charge genocide during the ICJ case. We also told Meta what we think of their new proposed policy to censor our criticism of Israel.

Last month, APSC4 members joined us to share their stories and experiences during detention and after being released. Read our comic about Ke’s story and his family.

This Black History Month, we’re also uplifting the crisis happening in Sudan and Congo. 

In Sudan, war, genocide, and ethnic cleansing has killed over 13,000 people and displaced 7.4 million people since April. These atrocities have disproportionately impacted women and children. Without immediate humanitarian aid, the outbreak of disease and famine continues to kill thousands more Sudanese people. Email your Representatives using this template (U.S., Canada, Australia, and U.K.).

Congo’s abundance in rich minerals like cobalt and natural resources, used in electronics and batteries for phones, make it a target for mining and reselling. Western countries’ demands for these minerals exploit the Congo, making it among the 5 poorest nations in the world. U.S.-backing of a 25 year aggression has caused over 6.1 million displaced people and a growing number of human rights violations. Now, tech and auto companies are being sued for exploiting child miners. Tell tech CEOs to settle this case and end the exploitation of child miners!


If you’d like to support, I designed art for the Chinatown Public Library Teen Council. They are teens who do grocery distribution to the elders in Chinatown with the proceeds supporting library programs and their work. AND I got new merch for you to rep 18MR: Our Community is Our Remedy ! Tag us on socials (@18millionrising) if you wear ‘em! 🥰

I recommend “Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora [A Cookbook]” by Reem Assil.  Reem has DELICIOUS recipes but also has stories of her life in Palestine and how growing up in the diaspora has shaped her activism and food.

”Refugee to Detainee: How the U.S. is Deporting Those Seeking a Safe Haven” is a comic by Thi Bui about the Asian Prisoner Support Committee. This is why I love comics; it can talk about things that academia would make hard to understand, and showcases the heart!

Every creative needs to listen to Leslie Jones!

This poem makes me cry because I feel the same way with my mom. 

Slay, Vietnam Tiktok. Are y’all craving some Vietnamese food all of a sudden?

As someone who grew up having my parents listening to Chinese epic-ballad pop music, this is the best English rendition I’ve ever heard.

And lastly, I sign off to you with this heartwarming tiktok and we DEMAND FOR A FREE
PALESTINE! 🇵🇸

In solidarity,

Brenda, Irma, Sharmin, Turner, Kari, and Leyen – 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? 

Active Campaigns

  • Duotone read and deep dark green image of protesters facing militarized police officers in the background. Main text reads: To District Attorney Jenkins: Drop the charges against the Bay Bridge 78! We are part of a long linesage of people who have used civil disobedience to help bend the arc of history towards justice - from the civil rights movement to the right against apartheid in South Africa. bit.ly/BayBridge78. 18MR's logo is on the bottom right corner.

    I was Arrested on the Bay Bridge

    I was arrested for demanding an end to genocide. We are part of a long lineage of people who have used civil disobedience to help bend the arc of history toward justice – from the Civil Rights Movement to the fight against apartheid in South Africa.  As a Filipino American organizer for racial justice, I’ve […]
  • PARDON APSC4

    PARDON APSC4: Our beloved family APSC 4: Borey “Peejay” Ai, Nghiep “Ke” Lam, Chanthon Bun, and Maria Legarda are at risk of deportation. Tell Governor Newsom to pardon them NOW so they can remain home with their families and community. Here’s some things you can do!
  • Sign the Asians for Ceasefire Letter!

    Sign the Asians for ceasefire letter for H. res. 786 We invite you, members of the Asian American community and allies, to join us in signing onto this letter urging Asian American Congressmembers to endorse the Ceasefire Now Resolution. As Asian Americans, we come from homelands where our peoples have been colonized, brutalized, led movements […]

Also On 18MR