Californians supporting their local Bay Area Asian American community is imperative amid a spike in racially motivated hate crimes. With a pandemic disproportionately poisoning almost every aspect of life for people of color – the economy, small businesses, mental and physical health – some still blame the Asian American community for COVID-19 because of its geographic origin. Even with a rise in attacks against Asian Americans, the authorities often charge perpetrators of racially targeted violence with attempted murder or assault, but rarely label these attacks as hate crimes.
In recent weeks Asian Americans have protested in the streets, seeking recognition that these crimes were not arbitrary but deliberately committed against their community. The recent Atlanta mass shootings took the lives of eight people, six of whom were Asian women. While we easily identify anti-Black or anti-LGBT+ crimes by symbols or slurs rooted in America’s history of oppression, anti-Asian crimes are not often attached to such hateful yet recognizable imagery or language. Because of the more ambiguous nature of violence against Asian American communities, they suffer an inordinate amount from not only the crime itself but also from its erasure.
Racial bias manifests not only through violence, but through everyday actions and words such as avoiding a person of color on the street to refusing to give your business to a POC-owned small business. Asian-owned businesses experienced a severe decline in revenue and working business owners in 2020. San Francisco’s Chinatown, a staple of the city’s tourism, was nearly destroyed by the effects of the pandemic. So, what day to day things can you do to support your local Bay Area Asian community? Here is our list of Bay Area Asian-owned small businesses and organizations to financially support, including grassroots organizations, bookstores, restaurants and boutiques.
Arkipelago Books – San Francisco, CA
Located in the Bayanihan Building in the South of Market (SOMA), Arkipelago Books is an integral part of the Filipino community and counts itself as one business among the many Filipino grassroots organizations, art spaces and families in the area. The store offers a wide variety of Filipino literature, including education, poetry and history. The store is closed on Tuesdays, but open all other days of the week for the local bibliophiles.
Eastwind Books – Berkeley, CA
In operation since 1982, Eastwind Books has been Berkeley’s main source for Asian American literature, ethnic studies, language learning, traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts books. They emphasize author spotlights, with a special interest in local authors and writers of color. Check out their events page for a multitude of incredible themed readings with authors. They have a Southeast Asian poets reading come up on Saturday, March 27, and they do their best to feature women writers.
Art’s Cafe – San Francisco, CA
This iconic Korean-American diner closed in 2020 after 30 years of business, but has reopened this year with new owners Chol and Chung Lee. Unlike many business owners this past year, previous owners Sarah and Hae Ryong Youn closed their doors to retire. Thankfully the new owners kept everyone’s favorite crispy hash browns and omelets, and they don’t seem to have plans to make big changes to the diner’s ambience or menu. They’re excited to make additions to the sandwich selection, such as bibimbap and pork belly.
Marnee Thai – San Francisco, CA
Born and raised in Bangkok, Chef Chai Siriyarn opened Marnee Thai in 1986 with a desire to share a taste of Thailand with San Franciscans. He blends the simplicity of Thai street food and fine dining traditions. Marnee Thai has consistently maintained a spot among the top-five Bay Area Thai restaurants in the San Francisco Zagat Survey for more than 20 consecutive years. His two sons Kasidit and Kevin plan to take over the business in the near future.
New Dumpling – El Cerrito, CA
The East Bay lacks the bonanza of Asian cuisine in central San Francisco. New Dumpling, true to its name, blessed the area with its handmade boiled dumplings (jiaozi). Be careful, though. You may end up eating a dozen (or even dozens) of boiled dumplings before you know it. The abundance of fillings combine a taste of fast food and fresh vegetables like zucchini, shrimp, pork and egg. Pace yourself with some cold appetizers like the sliced pig ears or the delightfully greasy scallion pancakes. If you can’t possibly eat as many dumplings as you crave, you can order them in frozen packages. Soon you’ll stop here every week when you run out of your frozen stash.
Stop AAPI Hate – San Francisco, CA
The San Franciscan organization Chinese for Affirmative Action founded Stop Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Hate, a reporting center, as a reaction to the surge in xenophobia during the 2020 pandemic. The center records and takes action against hate crimes and other instances of discrimination. Donate to support their cause and help protect your AAPI community against bias.
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