During his keynote address titled “No Coupons,” the 34-year-old Asian American chef/food personality who authored the autobiography, “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir”, stressed a very important message for immigrants: to begin charging customers at full price and refrain from selling themselves short.
“Being a natural-born American, I refuse to see myself as a guest or an alien, no matter how many people tell me to go back to China,” Huang stated to an audience of over 1,000 people.
He recounted how his Taiwanese father would offer huge discounts during the 1990’s in his steakhouse in Orlando because in his view, “immigrants can’t sell anything full price in America.” He links his dad’s experience to his own, as a successful restaurateur in LA and New York who now sells his food for the “full fucking price.”
“As immigrants, we must tell our stories if we want to be understood at full market value,” he explains, pointing out that sending across such narratives can help act as “the bridges to familiarity.”
Huang’s call for unity and collective understanding is a timely reminder at the time when immigrants are now facing a society with growing intolerance against other people’s race, gender, and religion. Currently, immigrants are bracing themselves to an uncertain future brought about by threats declared by the upcoming administration against millions of immigrants living in the United States.
“I hope that one day America will acknowledge my identity and accept that I am a yellow-blooded, whole American, entitled to equal rights, because nowhere in our creation story is whiteness tied to the definition of an American,” Huang continued.
“There is a lie I’ve seen told to white immigrants somewhere between the first and second generation, which convinces them that their struggle is the American one, and no other immigrant struggle can be understood as such and those inequalities against anyone wearing an SPF lower than 50 are somehow ordained,” he said.
“This is the lie that has propelled Trump to the White House. And whoever wrote this lie, voted for this lie, or turns a blind eye to this lie needs to stand with us today and dispel it, because the rest of America has to live it.”