Katherine's Letter

The Honorable Grace Meng of the United States House of Representatives

Dear Representative Meng:

My name is Katherine. I am a 11th - grade student in high school 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 years, Asian Americans have always been overlooked, neglected, and disrespected. This is especially seen in recent times, where Asian hate crimes have risen significantly ever since the COVID pandemic had started. Way too many AAPI people experience some form of discrimination against them, and not only do we need to raise awareness, we also need to educate everyone about this.

We 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 of her courage. At 8 years old, she was already experiencing discrimination, being called names such as “That Chinese Girl” and being neglected by Americans. Yet, that didn’t stop her from fighting for an equal education. Though they still had to be in segregated schools, she still persevered and continued to make statements regarding her injustice as an American.

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. In present times, AAPI workers and employees are blamed for “taking up jobs” or “taking up all the spaces in UC schools”. It just further displays how Americans see us as parasites, when, in reality, we just have to work harder. We have to, in order to gain a better life in such a hostile environment. We’re blamed for starting the pandemic, yet they’re too ignorant to realize that we, as US citizens, cannot control what happens there. We cannot control how the US contains the virus. It’s saddening to see how Americans continue to attack innocent people of the AAPI community, and I do believe that with AAPI heritage implemented into our school curriculums, people will finally begin to see our place in America.

I admire you because of your great impact in our society. Your Violence Against Women Act and your help in introducing the Mental Health Justice Act was far beyond exceptional. Women have it so much harder in an incarcerated environment, especially with their health, and seeing you fight for this is so admirable. Mental Health is also extremely important, especially when being delt with by first responders.

You see issues that others overlook, and you take the time and effort to make a change and bring justice to all. I have a younger brother who’s autistic, and knowing that someone is advocating for him, and others in similar or worse situations, is honorable. With these Asian hate crimes rising, it’s also relieving to see someone using their power in government to make a change for the better. Truly, I admire so much of your work, you’re a blessing to our society.

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

Our school education system is the base of everyone's knowledge, beliefs, and ways of thinking. AAPI history being neglected in history curriculum just shows how much we are ignored. It's so clear that Asian Americans played such an important part in history, such as the gold rush, which we learned in third grade. Yet, there was barely any mention of AAPI workers. We learn about school segregation and Rosa Parks in fifth grade, yet there’s no mention of the Tape family, who advocated for equal rights many years before Brown v. Board. Without AAPI history written in our books, Americans aren’t able to learn that it’s not right to put the blame on us, and therefore, they continue to see us as anything other than equal.

Thank you for advocating for our equality, and for our heritage. Implementing AAPI history into our history books is critical in educating people about our place in American history, and society.