Asian Americans in Charlotte say they’ve been concerned about reports of violence against Asian Americans for months, but the shootings carried out in Georgia Tuesday night hit especially close.
Why it matters: The shootings may have awakened many people around the country, but anti-Asian hate incidents have been building since the start of the pandemic.
- The national nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate documented nearly 3,800 incidents of discrimination and hate from March 2020 to February 28, 2021 across the country.
The state of play: North Carolina’s Asian population was the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the state in 2018, and more than half of that population is concentrated in urban counties, an N.C. Demography report from that time showed.
- About 6.5% of Charlotte’s population — or nearly 60,000 people — is “Asian alone,” recent census data show.
Dimple Ajmera, who immigrated from India with her family as a child, is the first Asian American to serve on Charlotte City Council. Asian American entrepreneurs in Charlotte have told her they’re fearful of opening their businesses, and parents are saying they’re anxious about sending their kids to school.
“I hear their pain, and I share their pain,” Ajmera tells us. “We have seen an increase in hate crimes since last year because words have consequences, especially when it comes from leaders.”
Ajmera said she was referring to former president Trump “associating the virus with the ethnic group.” Despite the backlash, Trump still refers to the coronavirus as the “China virus” or the “Chinese virus.”
Asian-owned businesses nationwide have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, due in part to xenophobia and misplaced blame for the pandemic, CNN and others have reported.
“We must all stand against these attacks against our Asian American brothers and sisters,” Ajmera adds.
Sean Kim, owner of Uptown’s MOA restaurant, tells us he’s especially worried about his parents who live in Atlanta, near where the Tuesday attacks took place.
Kim’s parents, who are Korean and in their 70s and 80s, like to exercise outside and walk around the neighborhood. That’s changed since the shooting.
“We’re telling them to stay home, not only [because of] COVID, but for the situations we have now,” he says of the rise of anti-Asian hate incidents.
How to support:
(1) Report incidents of hate.
If you’re a bystander or a victim of an instance of discrimination, you can report the incident through Stop AAPI Hate and through CMPD.
(2) Talk about what’s going on. Raise awareness.
When we asked MOA owner Sean Kim what Charlotteans can do to help, he suggested talking about what’s happening with friends, family members and colleagues. Raising awareness about the recent rise in anti-Asian hate incidents goes beyond sharing a news story on social media or talking with a friend, but that’s a good place to start.
(3) Dine in or order takeout from an Asian-owned business.
There’s a wealth of options for Asian cuisine in Charlotte from Szechuan dumplings to Nepalese curry. After we posted on Instagram, dozens of comments flooded in recommending businesses. Here are just a few of our favorites:
- Dumpling Lady – The dumpling stall and food truck has a big following. “How to support Charlotte’s Asian communities is the same as how to support any community,” co-owner Qian Zhang says. “Be a respectful person and an asset to the community, no matter who you are dealing with.”
- Choi’s Korea & Wing – Modest family-run restaurant with Korean and Chinese dishes.
- MOA – Upscale Korean barbecue restaurant in Uptown.
- Baoding – Longtime favorite Chinese restaurant on Sharon Road.
- Gyu-Kaku – Japanese BBQ restaurant in Uptown.
- Curry Gate – No-frills takeout restaurant near Camp North End with cuisine from Nepal and India. Curry Gate was also one of our best new restaurants in 2020.
- Lang Van – Beloved Vietnamese restaurant in the Plaza Shamrock neighborhood of east Charlotte.
- Axios guides to Korean food, sushi, Chinese food, Thai food and Asian grocery stores in Charlotte.
- Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority’s 24-hour guide to Asian-owned businesses.
(4) Shop local.
Charlotte is home to plenty of Asian-owned businesses. Here are a few highlights.
- Society Social – The posh decor store in South End’s Design Center sells furniture, wallpaper and entertaining accessories. The shop is owned by Roxy Te Owens, whose family immigrated to the US from the Philippines before she was born, according to Forbes.
- Super G Mart – This east Charlotte grocer has a huge selection of produce, kitchen tools and pantry staples. Don’t leave without a stop to the cafeteria in the back corner with stalls like Honey Buns (pork buns are amazing) and Korean Restaurant.
- The Cactus Club – Refresh your home with some new house plants from The Cactus Club’s micro-retail shop at Centro Railyard.
- Mimosas Nail Bar – Trang Tran’s popular nail salon in NoDa also happens to be the choice of model and entrepreneur Olivia Culpo.
(5) Experience cultures other than your own.
Kim hasn’t experienced instances of discrimination himself, but he’s very concerned when reading news from other cities. He believes the attacks — both verbal and physical — happen because of a lack of education and limited experience of cultures beyond one’s own.
- Ultimately, “they’re just neighbors,” he says of Asian American communities like his own.
You learn more about Asian and Asian American cultures by trying new restaurants, Kim says. Or by reading a book by an Asian American author, traveling to a country within Asia once the pandemic is over, and attending a local festival like the Charlotte Dragon Boat Festival in October 2021.