Asian American Advocates for Health (AAAH) is a student organization whose mission is to increase awareness of Asian American health issues and disparities, address gaps in research concerning Asian American health, and serve local Asian American communities and organizations. They accomplish this via speaker series, campus events, community screenings, and educational events.
We sat down with the organizers to discuss their experiences during the History of Our Community Tour.
What museum or site did you visit?
(AAAH) - For AAAH’s orientation event, we toured some of Manhattan Chinatown’s historical places (Nom Wah Tea Parlor, Bloody Triangle, Charles B. Wang Community Center, Buddhist Temple, Park, etc.).
Please describe your experience
(Tracy Vo, 2018-2019 Operations Chair) - I thoroughly enjoyed talking about what I have learned about Chinatown to folks who are new to NYC.
(Shali Pai, 2018 - 2019 President) - I think it was a great way to kickstart the semester and connect 1st years to one another in an informative and interesting walking tour.
what was the most important thing you learned?
(AAAH) - That Chinatown is a vibrant and valuable community outside of the commercialization of it. We wanted to create awareness that Chinatown is more than just a place to take friends to eat.
In our "call to observance," the 400 years of inequality organizers urge that the responses be place-based. how has the history you have uncovered tell of how inequality has functioned in this place? How have residents struggled against and resisted structural inequality?
(Tracy Vo) - Our tour highlighted places and areas that had history and still retain or have different meanings for the community here now. For example, we talked about the early 1900s’ gang activity in Chinatown that arose from systematic oppression and xenophobia towards Chinese Americans during this time. It’s important to remember that Chinatown is more than just a spot you go to for your dose of bubble tea or cheap cash-only eats. It’s a place where locals still live, attend community events, receive their medical care, and buy their groceries, and it’s changing a lot. It’s so important to highlight issues such as gentrification, health access, and the area’s walkability and accessibility.
(AAAH) - In a field where a lot of our work is focused on discussing health disparities, it is also important to call attention to the resourcefulness and resilience of communities. Our walk was able to highlight community-based resources and spaces that residents utilize to manage their health as well.
how has this site informed your work as public health practitioners?
(AAAH) - It has informed my work as a public health practitioner in thinking about how history very much shapes health and how little geographic enclaves can contain so many resources and centers that are culturally-appropriate for the population in the area.