By Abby Dodge
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — Surrounded by people from all walks of life, Kansas Citians gathered in Columbus Park Saturday afternoon to celebrate AAPI heritage month.
“I want to have a place where I feel like I belong, and I know that other people might feel that way as well,” said Café Ca Phe owner and event organizer Jackie Nguyen. “I honestly do these events sometimes selfishly because I want my friends to gather, and I want my friends to feel seen and heard. So, it’s not a weight, it’s an honor.”
Since the pandemic Asian Americans have reported hate crimes at alarming rates.
A recent study found last year anti-Asian violence and harassment increased by 342 percent in major U-S cities.
“I want her to know it when she grows older, know her backgrounds,” said event attendee My Phuong Wong. “Kind of let her know how her relatives was and what we came through.”
Wong’s family are refugees from Vietnam. She said events like today’s make her culture accessible.
“We’re all loving people and very friendly, caring,” Wong said. “Very approachable kind of people.”
It’s a contrast to continued violence against Asian-Americans.
Most recently, 3 shootings at Asian-run businesses in Dallas. The FBI is investigating at least one as a possible hate crime.
“Even if we are not talking about hate crimes or other offenses,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “We have an important role in making sure that we have a community that knows it’s supported, it can grow here and that can be fostered here.”
Nguyen said this celebration is a step in that direction.
“If we bring awareness to people who live here that we exist amongst the community,” she said. “We pay taxes, we are doctors, nurses, we are part of the Kansas City community I think that we will feel less invisible.”
Café Ca Phe plans to open a brick and mortar store this summer and continue to promote community events similar to Saturday’s AAPI celebration.
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