GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — It’s one thing to say “you have a voice” to enact change in your community. It’s another to create a platform for others, who are often times overlooked, to stand on as a way to showcase what it is they are saying.
That platform, though newly formed, is one built through the passion of Christie Soper and Tina Firesheets, designed to highlight the experience of Asian Pacific Americans in the Triad.
The two Greensboro women grew up in North Carolina, but their heritages stretch across parts of Asia.
Soper is of American and Korean descent, while Firesheets and her Korean mother lived on an Indian reservation until she was a young adult.
“The only other Asian person I knew was my mother,” Firesheets said.
While their upbringings might have been different, the two women shared similar experiences growing up. Ones that, unfortunately, are still experienced by a vast majority of the Asian American population in the country.
For example, the Asian American population in North Carolina has grown more than 175 percent in the past twenty years. With that, so do hate crimes against those individuals.
“Of those attacks, some of them are physical and violent. Some of those are racial slurs. Not necessarily crimes, but moral afflictions,” Soper said.
Most of those moral afflictions, and words of discouragement, are aimed at Asian American women more than men.
“People sometimes have this perception that maybe you’re exotic. So if you’re a young Asian woman who wants to start her own business, and be taken seriously – there’s some imbalance there,” Firesheets said.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. As a way to celebrate the month, and sustain the conversation of equality for this community in the Triad, both women decided to start a new online platform, PAVENC.
Though the month of May, each week they will focus and highlight a person/family/business owner of Asian Pacific descent, and highlight their stories. Not just their backgrounds, but their vision for their community in the greater Triad.
“Everybody has a unique story. That’s an absolute. We wanted it to be shared in the broader community,” Soper said. “If each individual comes up and puts their hand in the air and says this is what I’ve experienced, that’s how we create awareness.”
Though the website has only been “live” for two and a half weeks, there has also been an enormous amount of support from across the Triad. Soper said their stories have already begun the process of giving individuals a voice.
“To have more conversations and feel more connected. In fact, we got done with a story, and the woman said, ‘I feel seen and heard,’ and that made me choke up,” Soper said.
In addition to visiting the website, you can also send ideas of people to highlight, or to offer help in some way of spreading the word of the mission to create equality in the community.
After the month of May, the pair will go to a one-monthly story schedule.