As you may have seen in the news, attacks on Asian Americans are on the rise this year. One particular video from Oakland’s Chinatown drew demands for action after it depicted a 91-year-old man being shoved to the ground in the city. Unfortunately, the perpetrators of the violence captured on video were young Black men, which fueled tensions between the Bay Area’s Black and Asian American communities.
When Bay Area chef Adrian Chang and herbalist Erin Wilkins saw the video, they decided to use their online cooking tutorial platform to take action against the acts of violence and to help build bridges of unity in their community.
Chang and Wilkins usually host an online workshop shortly before Lunar New Year to teach viewers how to make traditional dumplings. This year, they decided to name the event “Dumplings for Unity” and donate all the profits to Good Good Eatz, a local nonprofit which aims to improve relationships between Black and Asian communities. “Food as a symbol is so significant and powerful for me,” Chang told Eater, “It’s the sharing of food that brings BIPOC communities — Asian and Black communities — together.”
In addition to donating their profits, the pair will use their 90-minute cooking class to bring up discussions of racism and race relations in the Bay Area. Their curriculum is inspired by one designed by Christine Su called “Dumplings for Black Farmers,” which focused on the role of Black and Asian communities in agriculture and the contribution they make towards regenerative agriculture systems. Designed in the wake of the George Floyd protests last summer, the course offered an opportunity to come together and exchange stories over the world’s strongest common denominator: a shared meal.
Sharing food is a powerful tool for building connections and developing empathy for others. There’s a reason shared meals are part of nearly every cultural holiday. Although it’s more difficult to get together in person these days to discuss incidents of racism we see in our communities, opening a dialogue and developing a commonly-understood narrative is the first step towards healing these rifts.
The Dumplings for Unity event will take place on February 20, 2021. If you’re interested, you can reserve your spot with a suggested donation of $30, $40, or $50.