Growing up in a town with little racial or ethnic diversity, the Chinese restaurant where my family would dine on special occasions was likely the first place where I was introduced to a culture unlike my own. What I didn't know then, is that the story of Chinese cuisine in America is ultimately a story about immigration, cultural identity, entrepreneurship and perseverance against racism. Chinese Americans were once told they did not belong in the US, but as immigration policy shifted and Chinese food was adapted to American palates, they went on to create one of our country's most beloved cuisines. There are now over 45,000 Chinese restaurants across the country – this number is greater than all the McDonald’s, KFCs, Pizza Huts, Taco Bells and Wendy’s combined. We are a county of immigrants, who love and rely on food grown, prepared and created by immigrants.
As the Trump administration pursues extreme systemic aggression against immigrants, we have an opportunity to reflect on the roles immigrants have played in shaping our culture, the way past and current policies discriminate against them, and the ways we must continue to resist additional racism and xenophobia that further marginalizes them. Trump is making immigrants the enemy, and we must do everything in our power to fight back against deportations, walls, and bans. This is a moment for us to show up – for each other and for ourselves.
In solidarity with the immigrants who feed us and who are being targeted by Trump's dangerous, xenophobic, racist, misogynistic policies and rhetoric, today I'm responding with the following #smallactsofresistance:
SUPPORT SANCTUARY RESTUARANTS
The restaurant industry relies heavily on immigrant labor – of the 12 million employed in the restaurant industry, about 70% are foreign-born and 1.3M are undocumented immigrants. They are restaurant owners, dishwashers, line cooks, servers, bussers, chefs, bartenders, porters. Outside of the restaurants themselves, immigrants are farmers and truck drivers and field workers. For many chefs and restaurant owners, an attack on immigrants is an attack against their workforce and livelihood. As private entities, restaurants can't enforce or change federal laws, but they can become sanctuary restaurants. Sanctuary restaurants offer a place at the table for all and uphold a no-tolerance policy for racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
Let's put our money where our values are and patronize sanctuary restaurants. Here's how consumers can help:
- Ask your favorite restaurants to join the movement – send them an informational card here.
- If you witness or experience hate, harassment, or discriminations in a restaurant – text TABLE to 225568 to report injustice or tweet at @table4everyone.
GET INVOLVED WITH ORGANIZATIONS WORKING ON THE FRONT LINES
Grassroots organizations are often in the best position to understand and address the underlying issues affecting your community, yet these organizations often have little access to resources to sustain their important programming. Annual and, better yet, monthly donations can help them build sustainable solutions for the communities they directly represent. Right now more than ever, it's important for us to take stock of our privilege and be led by the people working on the front lines in our communities. Here's who I'm giving to today:
- Make the Road New York – uses policy advocacy, organizing, education, and survival services (including workforce training and adult education) to improve the lives of immigrants in New York City. Donate here, and learn more ways to get involved here. Your can also sign up for action alerts by texting ROAD to 52886.
- The New York Immigration Coalition – promotes immigrants’ full civic participation, fosters their leadership, and provides a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities. Donate here, and sign up for updates here.
CONTINUE TO SPEAK OUT
The only way we will stop the most dangerous presidential agenda of our generation is if we continue to speak out.
- Call your elected representatives – Your elected officials work for you and want to hear from you – save their contact information in your phone and give them a ring every day to speak up about immigrants' rights and other issues affecting your community. Check out this google doc to learn about your Senators', Governor's, Attorney General's or Representatives' stance on immigration issues, then use the templates to give them a call today.
- Tweet, 'gram, share – While we all are suffering from information overload, social media is a place where we can use our own platforms to speak up about the issues we care about. For the future of our planet and our people, we must organize, educate and get involved. Think about the creative ways you share your stories with the world, and consider including a message about the issues you care about. #smallactsofresistence are contagious – how can your actions inspire others to join?