By Lauren Hugh, contributor; April 2021
I’ve generally never been one to speak out on racial issues. My dad has always said, you should never talk about politics or religion at a party, it just starts arguments. I assumed the same principal applied to race, so therefore, I kept my mouth shut about it.
I also am aware that I have a certain degree of privilege being a mixed Chinese-American. I didn’t know what race was until I was about 12, so I generally never let derogatory comments get in my way. I brushed off the kids talking in “Asian accents” at school, or simply joined in out of pure shock and fear of not knowing what else to do in that situation.
Now I am older, and I would like to think, wiser. Looking back on my childhood and upbringing, there were instances of racism everywhere. Most were acts of ingrained or subconscious racism, but that still doesn’t make them excusable. However, today there is a much bigger issue. The great pandora’s box of racism has been opened. Acts of violent, physical abuse are happening to Asian elders nationally and internationally. And these hate crimes are not isolated events.
The past several months have made me feel helpless. I had been searching for a way to help since the Stop Asian Hate movement is so near and dear to my heart. Yet, with the pandemic still ever-present, I wanted to find a way to support the movement, in which I could also limit my exposure. Since I have a , I follow a lot of food-related accounts on Instagram and often get other food accounts suggested to me on the app. One day I came across . It is an account that organizes national bake sales to raise money for certain timely charitable causes. At the time I discovered them, they were organizing a bake sale for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – ALC. Around the same time, I also came across a protest photo of holding a sign reading, “Love Our People Like U Love Our Food.” That photo was the inspiration for the giant egg tart I baked and auctioned off for the BFC bake sale. The I made of the egg tart eventually went viral generating 64k+ views. The auction also raised $1,300 and the entire BFC bake sale raised over $27,500 for the cause.
Due to the success of the egg tart, I was included in an article in Hong Kong Tatler along with other creatives using their art to draw attention to the movement. I also decided, that since there was so much interest in the egg tart and that only one person was able to win, I wanted to make an enamel pin version of the tart so everyone interested could have a “piece” for themselves. I had been following an account on Instagram called for a while. The page is run by enamel pin artist, Jen, a fellow Minnesotan and AAPI creative. I cold reached out to her asking if she’d be willing to collaborate with me on a pin version of the tart for charity. She agreed and I can easily say that I never would have been able to do this without her. All of our profits will be going towards the . A limited number of tart pins are still available and you can still pre-order on her . I did a similar cold reach out to Beca McKay of . Unbeknownst to me, Beca actually lives in the UK and graciously collaborated with me through our time differences to auction off a digital print of the tart on my .
Beyond my baking endeavors, I am also an actor. I recently created and virtually premiered a solo piece for an apprenticeship I was in at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville called “BEING A BANANA.” The piece was also a commentary on the recent rise in Asian hate crimes. It includes public news footage of some of the incidents to paint a clearer picture for viewers of what our movement is actually in response to. The theatre subsequently decided to censor my piece through their streaming platform, but the original uncut version can be found on my .
Although it is clear there is much work to be done, I feel fortunate to be able to speak my truth through various media and platforms. I hope that in doing so I can make change in my little corner of the internet and beyond. Because at the very base of it all, we’re all human.
Keywords: Stop Asian Hate, Bakers for Change, cakes, tart, racism, hate crimes