Jenny's Letter

The Honorable Grace Meng of the United States of Representatives

Dear Representative Meng:

My name is Jenny Pan. I am a college student in New York 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©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.In the wake of ever-increasing hate against the AAPI community, the AAPI initiative is more important to me than ever before. I personally witnessed my parents afraid to go outside because they were afraid that something would happen to them if they left our house. We are now at this critical juncture where we can change our conditions for the better. The eGirl Power AAPI Initiative will get us one step closer to realizing equality for Asian Americans by educating, empowering, and elevating the AAPI community.

We learned about Mamie Tape, an 8-year-old ChineseAmerican 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 yearsbefore Brown v. Board of Education.

I am inspired by Mamie Tape because she was a brave young girl who used her voice to oppose a grave injustice against the Asian American community. Considering that she fighting her case amid the Chinese Exclusion Act era, with sweeping prejudice against Chinese people, she was still fearless in the face of injustice. She, at 8-years old, recognized that the treatment of Chinese Americans was wrong and that something had to be done about it. 170 years laterin the present day,her work in realizing equality for Asian Americans is not over.

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. It’s really a shame that I could my whole K-12 public education career without ever learning about Mamie Tape’s story. It’s a shame that a vast majority of people do not know her story. Asian America has made a lot of contributions to the United States, yet the American public has a dangerous one-sided story about Asian Americans, plagued with stereotypes. In order to overcome stereotypes of Asian Americans, it’s imperative that public schools teach AAPI history.

I admire you because you represent the Asian American voice in government. You amplify the voices of the Asian American communityand further our interests.Especially considering that you are one among the 10 AAPI women among the 535 members of Congress, you contribute the lifeblood of the Asian American voice in politics. AAPI is usually described as an invisible and overlooked community, but you prove them wrong and show that AAPI women are capable leaders too.

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

This fact just goes to show how AAPI history is sorely lacking in US public schools. The AAPI community is consistently invisible and overlooked. The lifeblood of the United States is its diverse people; Asian America is also part of the diverse tapestry of the United States. It’s really sad that Asian Americans are not recognized as such. This statistic highlights the importance of implementing AAPI history in public schools.


Jenny Pan