Asian American restaurant owners in New York City have banded together to launch an initiative in response to the recent spike in anti-Asian violence in the U.S. The campaign, called #EnoughIsEnough, is fundraising to donate food to underserved New York City shelters and raising awareness about the surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans across the country.
In recent weeks, attacks on older Asian Americans, including burglaries, robberies and assaults, have increased. An 84-year-old man in San Francisco died after being shoved to the ground by an assailant. In New York City, a 61-year-old man was slashed across the face. Even before the current surge, one-in-four Asian Americans youths reported racist bullying.
According to Food and Wine, the idea for the #EnoughisEnough campaign started with Eric Sze, owner of Taiwanese restaurant 886 in NYC. On Instagram, Sze wrote that he wanted to help his community in a time "of crisis and uncertainty."
"When do we speak up? How do we speak up? Is our voice worth anything?" he wrote below an infographic about the project. "That's the question we've been asking ourselves a lot these past weeks … With #enoughisenough, a good handful of your favorite Asian food and beverage businesses in NYC have come together to show that our voices matter. … By joining forces with others in the same position, our voices can be heard and our impact can be heard."
Almost two dozen restaurants and businesses joined in on the initiative. On Friday, the campaign was posted on Givebutter, a fundraising site, with the goal of raising $25,000. By Tuesday afternoon, the campaign had raised over $41,000.
"At a loss of words," wrote Sze on Instagram, after the campaign passed its initial goal. "This was 12 hours. What started off as a rash, heat of the moment idea has become something people could throw their support behind. Surround yourself with good people and amazing things will happen."
According to the campaign site, the donations will be used to "donate free meals to those in need," including "Asian elders, underserved Black and Latino homeless shelters, and those struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic." All donations past the goal of $25,000 will be donated to charities "helping Asian communities in need," reads a statement on the site.
On social media, others involved in the campaign shared their thoughts about the initiative.
"On one of the most meaningful holidays of the year, we're honoring Lunar New Year by amplifying the voices of our community by standing with some of NYC's favorite small businesses," wrote Moonlynn Tsai, who co-owns and operates Kopitiam, a Malaysian restaurant in NYC, and distributes meals to elderly Asian Americans through Heart of Dinner, a food relief program. " … Our hope is to show that by gathering together, no matter the 'size' of anyone's platform, our voices CAN make an impact."
Lucas Sin, who co-owns the fast-casual restaurant Junzi Kitchen in NYC with Sze, called the campaign a story of "resilience."
Those who donate to the campaign will be sent links to a virtual cooking class, called "Lunar Banquet for Uncle Vicha," named after Vicha Ratanapakdee, the 84-year-old man who died after being shoved in San Francisco.