A Video Interview with the Core Team Members of You Finish Eat? Platform

CSD Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month
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May is National Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month a time to reflect on and celebrate the rich culture and history of Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals. Originally established as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week by Congress in 1978, the observance has since expanded to include the entire month of May.

May was chosen to recognize two important dates in Asian-American history: the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States (May 7, 1843) and the completion of the transcontinental railroad (May 10, 1869), much of which was built by Chinese-American immigrants. The Library of Congress, as well as several other government institutions, have a calendar of AAPI-month-related events and resources available here.

As part of our own AAPI-month celebration, we’re thrilled to be spotlighting Asian Deaf women Nayo Franck, Leang Ngov, Anna Lim, and Lina Hou, the core team of a platform called “You Finish Eat?” (YFE?). YFE? is “a platform to share resources on critical discourses about social justice by and for Asian & Pacific Islander communities via ASL.”

We had the opportunity to chat with Nayo and Leang about their personal histories, the future of YFE?, why “positive” stereotypes can still cause harm, and what you can do to stop anti-Asian discrimination in your community. Want to learn more? Check out our video interview with Nayo and Leang below!

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CSD: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
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I’m Nayo, my pronouns are she, her/hers.

I identify as Deaf queer Korean adoptee. I live in the Boston area, on stolen land belonging to the Pequossette and the Nonantum tribes. I am now a full-time Omma of two KODAs aged 9 months & aged 3.

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A Korean adoptee deaf cisgender female. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She has a light blue buttoned shirt on. The background is grey.

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My name is Leang. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I identify as Khmerican Deaf and a child of refugees whose parents were forced to flee from their home country, due to the secret wars in Southeast Asia countries that were conducted by the U.S. I live in the Bay Area in Northern California on stolen land belonging to the Patwin tribe. I am currently a homeschooling parent of three KODA, aged 7, 11, and 13.

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a Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

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CSD: What inspired you to set up You Finish Eat?
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Back in 2015, when administering a Facebook group for Asian Women Signers, the four of us- Leang, Nayo, Anna Lim and Lina Hou learned that we all shared the same passion for social justice work. We saw that there is so much need for raising awareness about social justice issues in our signing communities especially in the context and impacting Asian communities.

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A Korean adoptee deaf cisgender female. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She has a light blue buttoned shirt on. The background is grey.

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So 4 of us- I, as a child of refugees, Nayo as an adoptee, Lina as a child of an immigrant and Anna as a current immigrant- knew we could contribute a lot for our communities. Back in 2016, hearing API communities were working collectively to address Black Lives Matters. They decided to pen a letter for their API families on the importance of Black Lives Matter and called on others to have the letter translated in their home language. It was added to the resources. We agreed that this letter needed to be translated in ASL as well. So our platform was first born with our very first video post of a ASL translation of a letter to Asian Families about Black Lives Matter.

Video Description

a Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

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CSD: What do people get wrong about the Asian-American experience?
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That we are a monolith where we are the same by:
The looks, personality, behavior, jobs, interests, food, cultures, language, holidays, religions and histories and many more, etc.

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A Korean adoptee deaf cisgender female. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She has a light blue buttoned shirt on. The background is grey.

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CSD: What is Model Minority Myth (M3)?
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What is Model Minority Myth? It is a concept to highlight a specific racial group as a good model and with it comes the stereotypes such as intelligent, law-abiding citizens, successful and wealthy. This concept is later used by the government/white supremacy as a political wedge to divide communities of color.

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a Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

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CSD: Why are “good” stereotypes still bad?
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Let’s take one example of “Asian students are good at math” as a “positive” stereotype that actually has a negative effect on our Asian youth communities. Why? This “high” expectation puts unnecessary pressure on their ability to learn to be their own individual person, affecting their self-esteem, emotional growth. This also causes teachers to assume that Asian students do not need extra help, less attention and care that the Asian students will also feel they should not ask for help. Many educational negative consequences could happen out of this.

Video Description

A Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

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CSD: What types of harassment have Asian-Americans been experiencing since the COVID-19 began spreading in the United States?
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A to Z that you could think of. In fact, based on the Stop AAPI Hate website, there were 3,795 reports from March 2020 to the end of February 2021 with 149% increase of violence against Asian communities. Think about all of the numbers that happened that were not reported as well.

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A Korean adoptee deaf cisgender female. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She has a light blue buttoned shirt on. The background is grey.

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The numbers of our elders beaten up/killed skyrocketed. 6 Asian women were killed during the Atlanta shooting. Sikh shooting. More youths are being bullied at schools. Keep in mind that there are so many more attacks that are not getting media attention, and those things are still happening right now.

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A Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

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CSD: How can people address anti-Asian discrimination on an individual, community, and national level?
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First step to start is to acknowledge that anti-Asian racism exists and is NOT new.

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A Korean adoptee deaf cisgender female. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She has a light blue buttoned shirt on. The background is grey.

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On community level, what people can do is to start listening and learning from local API communities and follow their lead.

At national level, people can make some changes by voting. We do not want to have policies and laws that would discriminate against any racial groups and as people, we do have the power to make some changes. We need to start paying close attention. Please, always listen to what API communities are saying. Many politicians currently are saying that they do not feel that anti-Asian racism needs to be addressed at this level.

Video Description

a Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

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CSD: What’s next for YFE?
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We hope to continue our ongoing relationship with the community by focusing on doing more collaboration work with those who believe in us so we can provide resources to those who need it the most.

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A Korean adoptee deaf cisgender female. She has black hair pulled back into a ponytail. She has a light blue buttoned shirt on. The background is grey.

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We also hope to establish a certain format in our projects that would be more conducive to discourses that would germinate potential activism.

We hope to initiate dialogue that would drive social change through community activism and organization

Video Description

a Khmer-American deaf cisgender female. She has long straight black hair and is wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. She has a blue buttoned shirt on. The background is light grey.

Looking to Celebrate AAPI Month with your Students?

Check out this list of resources from CSD Learns.

Join us in mobilizing resources for our deaf communities!