Aslesha's Letter

The Honorable Grace Meng of the United States House of Representatives

Dear Representative Meng:

My name is Aslesha. I am an 11-grade student in California taking part in eGirl Power’s AAPI Initiative to “Educate, Empower and Elevate” the AAPI community to unite efforts to #StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate. An IRS-approved 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, eGirl Power believes the best way to fight discrimination is through education, and this is the spirit and approach of its AAPI Initiative.

I’m writing to describe what the AAPI Initiative means to me. Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten to share my own and hear about the horrific stories of other AAPI girls. The more I learn about what other people with a similar background to mine go through, the more I understand why it’s imperative we speak out about it. For so long, we’ve been taught to silence ourselves and just endure life the way it is, but I’ve come to the realization that it doesn’t have to be that way.

We recently learned about Mamie Tape, an 8-year-old Chinese American girl who helped desegregate schools – way back in 1885! Mamie Tape's effort to desegregate the San Francisco public schools went to the California Supreme Court 70 years before Brown v. Board of Education.

I am inspired by Mamie Tape because she and her parents had the courage to speak about the issues they faced regarding systemic racism. At this particular time in American history, there was a significant amount of hatred toward the Chinese
community. Not many people in their situation would have said something, and I think it’s important for us to continue what they started.

I support The Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act (H.R. 2283) that you reintroduced in May 2021 in the wake of ever-increasing anti-Asian attacks during COVID-19. For decades, the Asian American community has faced endless racism. I believe that a big reason why there hasn’t been much change is because most Americans don’t truly understand the struggles of the AAPI community. Most of us were never taught about these issues in school, so we don’t even know they exist. Learning about Asian Pacific American History can help fight existing racism toward the AAPI community.

I admire you because you were brave enough to bring up an incredibly sensitive issue at a compromising time. Additionally, as a young Asian American female, it is truly empowering to see someone of a similar background hold a government position. I appreciate your determination to helping the AAPI community.

A recent survey found that 42 percent of people living in the U.S. cannot name a single prominent Asian American!

This statistic shocked me when I first heard it. However, the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Without Asian Pacific American History in schools, most people won’t ever learn about Asian Americans. Education is important and because we live in a country with so much diversity, it’s essential that we learn about the struggles and achievements of everyone. Once again, your commitment to bettering the lives of the AAPI community is admirable.