Celebrating Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Asian Leaders Alliance and Hate is a Virus
Company Updates

Celebrating Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Asian Leaders Alliance and Hate is a Virus

This year, Airtable’s Commemorative Observance team is celebrating Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month through the theme of “Steeped in Tradition”, which inspired us to share the stories of the amazing organizations out there powered by Airtable.

This year, Airtable’s Commemorative Observance team is celebrating Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month through the theme “Steeped in Tradition,” which inspired us to share the stories of the amazing organizations out there powered by Airtable.

Asian Leaders Alliance and Hate is a Virus are two organizations that were founded by Asian & Pacific Islanders to empower and inspire those in the API community. We interviewed Jimmy Hua, whose pronouns are he/him, from Asian Leaders Alliance and Kendice Choi, Christine Juang, Tammy Cho, and Michelle Hanabusa, who all use she/her pronouns, from Hate is a Virus. Both organizations told us about their work, Asians & Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and how they’re using Airtable.

Jimmy Hua, Asian Leaders Alliance Co-President and Co-Founder

Tell us more about Asian Leaders Alliance.

Being an Employee Resource Group (ERG) leader can be lonely sometimes. You are one of the few that is taking an active lead at your company to advocate and be a positive influence on behalf of your community. There wasn't anyone at your company, that was in your exact position/role. You and your group were the only Asian ERG Leads at your company.

After I was asked to speak at a conference as an Asian ERG lead, I've met many other Asian ERG leads that had different experiences than I had. They wanted to learn from me, while I wanted to learn from them. Within 15 minutes of finishing my session, I had 20 Asian ERG leads wanting to speak with me about my experiences. I thought to myself, ""Why does this feel so transactional? How can we do better?"

I chatted with one of the ERG leads, Samantha Lee, and we decided that we (the Asian ERG leads) needed a community for us to show each other that we were not alone doing this work. That others from different companies were also doing this exact same work. We needed a community to help us all be aligned and take it to the next level.

It wasn't enough to just be a community; we wanted to have a collective impact. We all wanted to be smarter, collaborate, leverage our resources and expertise, and be that one unifying voice and action to make a difference at our companies and our community.

Through a few meetings of a dozen passionate Asian ERG Leads, we made this happen. We made a place where we all grew together and followed our mission “to equip, empower, and enable Asian Pacific Islander ERG members and allies to grow as civic leaders and advocate for the community(s) we serve.”

How does your organization use Airtable?

Being a community of leaders and focusing on community contribution, it was difficult to find the right tools to allow us to allow users to contribute information in an organized way. Other tools were either too restrictive or way too open. We wanted our members to contribute, but also be able to see the results that were visually appealing but also easier to configure.

We were able to collect information such as “resources”, and only show the subset of columns out to a public forum for our general members and the public, without seeing PII data that we use to ensure the legitimacy of the contributor. Having different views was perfect to be able to customize and embed the forms to our website.

What does Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

It means that we, as a community of Asians & Pacific Islanders, have the opportunity and the reminder to represent ourselves and be allies to each other. Asians & Pacific Islanders consist of many communities, over 73 countries, 300+ ethnic groups, and countless experiences.

It is for us to celebrate our commonalities and differences. To bring awareness and educate those around us about the history, culture, struggles, and even the disparities. It is to show that life is more than what you see, it reminds us all that we are the same but also different. In the end, we are all human beings.

Personally, it reminds me, that I need to cherish and honor my culture, my family, and those who came before me. Be proud and share that with others. And make any and all efforts to have all Asians (East Asians, South Asians, West Asians, Southeast Asians, etc) & Pacific Islanders to be allies with each other; and also be allies with other (Black, Latinx, Indigenous, etc) communities and allow them to our allies.

Kendice Choi (Project Manager), Christine Juang (Director of Community Education & Outreach), Tammy Cho (Co-founder, CEO), Michelle Hanabusa (Co-founder, COO), Hate Is A Virus

Tell us more about Hate Is A Virus.

Hate Is A Virus is a nonprofit community of mobilizers and amplifiers to dismantle racism and hate. The movement started in 2020 and we as an org continue to amplify, educate and activate AAPI to stand for justice and equality in solidarity with other communities by mobilizing our community to participate in local and national campaigns, creating safe spaces for dialogue and education, and providing actionable steps and funding in partnership with trusted community leaders and organizations.

How does your organization use Airtable?

As a project manager by trade both inside and outside of Hate Is A Virus who often found solace in using customized spreadsheets to accommodate various projects, Airtable brought together a lot of features that were great about spreadsheets and other project management tools into one place.

Our team at Hate Is a Virus is a strong and mighty cross functional team and so we depend on our project bases to be cross coordinating across all of our departments: Creative, Fundraising, Partnerships, Comms. We’re still building some of the operational processes for our growing team, but Airtable has been pivotal in helping bring these aspects of the growing organization together.

Tell us about your experiences as an API entrepreneur/business owner/organizer.

A question we are getting frequently is how people can get started and use their existing skill set to contribute to the community. Here are some ways we found helpful and have used in our experience.

Michelle: Design and fashion is my outlet of expression. I was never the greatest writer or public speaker and so I always used other creative mediums to connect with like-minded individuals. One advice I would give is that activism is a lifelong journey. Talk to trusted voices and members within your community, hold conversations around various issues you are passionate about with family and friends and find resources to help better understand why these issues exist. Doing something small each day will allow you to have a better understanding of possible ways you can bring your skills to the table around an issue you deeply care about.

Tammy: I think activism can sometimes seem intimidating for people because it seems like there’s a “standard” way to stand for social justice. The reality is that activism looks very different for each person and it’s a journey to find how we can each best engage with these issues. I would encourage people to start with the internal work -- spend some time internally reading and researching why these issues exist, have dialogue with your trusted circle and reflect on your strengths and ways you might want to activate and contribute. Anything from holding a conversation with one other person to creating art that expresses your emotions to starting movements are all pivotal to this movement. The most important thing is that we all continue to engage in some way. There’s strength in numbers.

What does Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

This month is a reminder of the resilience, brilliance, and expansiveness of what it means to be Asian American. To celebrate the nuance of our diverse experiences, the rich history of different Asian ethnic groups in America, our ancestral activists who paved the road for us to be here, and the beauty of our unique cultures that break past the idea of the Asian American monolith.

Especially in a time where we are constantly experiencing & exposed to violence against the Asian American community, APAHM is a time for us to live in the fullness of who we are and to acknowledge everything that got us to this moment.

It is a chance for us to reclaim our own narrative and how we want to be known, while also learning more about our history.

More for the record