How to Support the AAPI Community in Denver

Stand in solidarity.

For Asian Americans across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an additional burden: a significant increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. After the recent horrific murders in Atlanta, a long overdue call for support for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the US has become loud and clear. Discrimination and violence against this community isn’t new, it’s been an ongoing problem, and one that’s silenced for far too long.

So what can you do about it? Mayor Hancock recently spoke about the fact that Denver, too, has seen an increase in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans in the past year. This is not a problem our city is immune to. So from the local to the national level, here are some of the ways you can show your support.

Educate Yourself

Start by accessing resources aimed at helping to educate and inform. The YouTube series #AsianAmCovidStories explores the impact COVID-19 has had on AAPI  individuals and gives a firsthand look at their experiences. You can also read more first hand stories of discrimination and hate crimes via the Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Stand Against Hatred platform.

You can also arm yourself with knowledge on how to step in if you see Anti-Asian hate in action. Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice have teamed up to provide free online bystander intervention and a de-escalation training which includes tools for intervening as well as education on the types of Anti-Asian behavior the community faces, from microaggressions to violence.

Give to nonprofits & support community efforts

Restaurateur Tommy Lee’s popular eatery Hop Alley is named for the area that was once Denver’s Chinatown. Once a thriving part of the city, a racist mob violently attacked the neighborhood in the 1880s, killing one person and leaving the community broken, never to fully recover. Now Lee has joined forces with 100 other AAPI restaurants nationwide to help raise awareness and money for the AAPI Community Fund through the sale of T-shirts. All proceeds from the sale will go directly to the fund.

The Asian Pacific Development Center (APDC) was founded in 1980 and is located in Aurora. They work to provide a variety of services to Colorado’s Asian American and Pacific Islander residents, including offering victim’s assistance like financial services, emergency housing, crisis counseling, and more. You can donate online and they also have several volunteer opportunities.

On a national level, Stop AAPI Hate was formed in March 2020 in response to rising violence. A combined effort from the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University, its mission is take provide a resource to report anti-Asian hate incidents so they can be properly tracked and responded to. You can easily donate directly online to help support their mission.

Keep AAPI-owned businesses afloat

Restaurants were hit especially hard by the pandemic with the initial shutdown, constantly changing regulations, and lack of government support. And even before the March 2020 shuttering of all Denver restaurants, Asian-owned restaurants in the Mile High had already started seeing a drop in sales by February because of concerns over COVID-19’s ties to China.

While the culinary scene saw a lot of restaurant closures in the past year, many others have made it through, and many of those are AAPI-owned. Like Lao Wang Noodle House, where husband and wife owners Chung-Ming and Tse-Ming Wang, who are now in their '80s, continue to cook and serve up soup dumplings and potstickers (only available via online ordering right now in order to keep the owners healthy and safe).

Nearby, Star Kitchen is back open for its popular dim sum in person. Over in Aurora, head to Uncle Zoe’s for their flaky, savory Chinese-style pies. If you’re really up for a feast, check out chef/owner Joseph Kim’s Dae Gee, which now has five locations in and around Denver with a sixth coming to Aurora soon. Then there’s ramen favorite Pho 95, banh mi at Vinh Xuong Bakery, khao soi at Daughter Thai, and the list goes on and on. Federal Boulevard and Aurora both have a high density of Asian American-owned restaurants, so start exploring ASAP. 

Beyond restaurants, Denver is home to many other AAPI businesses. Show your support of this community with your wallet, by opting to patronize places like Base Coat, Denver’s first non-toxic nail salon in Denver which owner Tran Wills launched in 2013. Or one of Denver’s many Asian markets, pike Pacific Mercantile Company which celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2020. You can also check out the Asian Chamber of Commerce for more resources on businesses in Denver that are AAPI-owned.

Report anything you see

We’ve heard it before, but it’s essential if you see something, to say something. And thanks to organizations like Stop AAPI Hate, all it takes is a few minutes to report any incidents of anti-Asian hate that you may be a witness to. You also have the option to report on behalf of someone else, if you know of someone that is unable to do so on their own.

Molly Martin is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @mollydbu on Instagram and Twitter for more updates on food, fun, and life in the Mile High.