Pop Culture

This Is Our City Too

Diversity and kindness at Peli Peli.
Diversity and kindness at Peli Peli. Photo by Ellie Sharp
Houston Press contributor and local restaurateur Thomas Nguyen recently wrote a piece for popular website Angry Asian Man called Breaking Stereotypes When It Matters Most, which highlighted how Asian people within Houston's restaurant industry made a great impact during the rescue and relief efforts directly after Harvey, including sommelier Cat Nguyen, the Dumping Bros food truck owners John and Cassie Kang, and more. Here now, Nguyen writes about why it's important for these stories to be shared with the community.

“Hey (insert offensive Asian name here), go back to your own country!”

The most offensive part of this for most Asian Americans isn’t the typical, unimaginative “ching chong chang” or “chinaman” names, but it’s the assumption that being Asian-American, that we do not belong to this wonderful country.

Asians have been in the United States almost as long as the Irish have, yet even in movies and the media, Asians almost always have accents which perpetuates the stereotype of the perpetual foreigner.

One of the best things about Houston isn’t just the diversity, it’s the people in general. There is a lot of love in this city, and it was obvious everywhere you looked during the most devastating Hurricane we have ever seen. Out of all of the amazing stories of community and heroic conduct, including J.J. Watt, Mattress Mac, and the Cajun Navy, were small, but impactful acts by Asian American Houstonians.

I was recently able to highlight four stories for Angry Asian Man, a popular blog that focuses on Asian Americans in the media and popular culture (the good and the bad). I felt it was important to write about these stories not to show that they helped any more than anyone else in Houston, but to encourage other Asian Americans to continue to give back and contribute back to their community, regardless of race, age or sexual orientation. I love these stories because they are not about Asian Americans helping their own, but about Asian Americans helping out Houston, because they live here.

Maybe I’ll never be considered an “American” because of the way I look, but I’m more than okay just being a Houstonian.
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Thomas Nguyen is a freelance food writer for the Houston Press and co-founder of South African restaurants Peli Peli & Peli Peli Kitchen.