Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the authors.
The recent rise in anti-Asian violence has made us reflect on our own experiences as Asian entrepreneurs and how we can all fight to #StopAsianHate.
We (Jason and Annie) started Jemi around a shared passion for building for creators. Our vision is to build for the next generation of creator entrepreneurs in the growing creator economy — helping them engage, monetize, and grow their audiences more effectively.
Jemi was founded officially in April 2020 and for the most part, our journey has been incredibly rewarding.
We’ve had the luxury of getting the company off the ground during the start of the pandemic. We’ve started hiring a stellar team that inspires us every day. Most importantly, we’ve been able to impact the lives of creators around the world by helping them engage with their audiences and make money.
We’ve always felt grateful for the community around us — customers, investors, and champions — that have rallied around us and supported our journey.
When we first started hearing about the rise in anti-Asian sentiment, it made our team sick to our stomachs. As an all-Asian founding team, the seemingly endless stream of violent events piled onto our shoulders and weighed heavily on our minds day-to-day.
Seeing innocent mothers being killed and grandparents being assaulted became gut-wrenching. We started fearing for the safety of our parents and families. We became more cautious walking on the streets of our own neighborhood.
It made us think critically about how, sadly, Asian hate is still present today.
When we first started prototyping our product we would reach out to initial creators to get their feedback and pitch them on our monetization product. Even in the early days, we would receive hateful email responses — “GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM!” or “ching chong!!!”
It was hurtful but we brushed it off. “These people are uneducated and they don’t impact our lives in any way,” we would say.
But we began to realize it was a pattern. Building a digital platform opened us up to the voices of the world, and we realized incidents like these weren’t isolated.
We recently posted on LinkedIn expressing our pain around recent events and received comments like this:
From an “Experienced Cultural, Diversity and Business Coach” no less.
At some point, we decided that enough was enough. While we didn’t experience any major overt acts of violence, we were fed with the constant microaggressions and attacks. And we knew we weren’t alone. As leaders, we realized our silence is complicity and the most immediately impactful thing we could do was to speak up.
We started small. We responded to the above comment and called it out, saying such overt hate is not acceptable.
We then realized that we were lucky enough to work with creators with existing audiences. We reached out to our Asian creators and allies to see if they’d be willing to speak up and fight the hate — the result was overwhelmingly positive.
We realized we could rally our creators and their audiences to raise money to #StopAsianHate. We ended up kicking off an official fundraiser, led by our teammate Amanda Deng, where individuals could either donate directly or purchase interactions with creators with all proceeds being donated to the cause.
We were inspired by the response from the communities and the creators that stepped in and were vocal.
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
We feel grateful to our entire team and creator family for doing an amazing job of organizing fundraisers, hosting events, and rallying corporate donors. To date we’ve raised over $33,769.76 for the cause, with all funds being donated to #HATEISAVIRUS’ CommUNITY Action Fund.
— Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe (@RealCrystalLowe) April 5, 2021
Hey #POstables I have some awesome news! @kristintbooth and I will be doing a joint zoom! Tickets are $50 and limited so please join us if you can. All proceeds will be donated to #Stopasianhate orgs! Link is in my bio!! pic.twitter.com/HF5fzlplvY
— Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe (@RealCrystalLowe) March 25, 2021
Been organizing my scripts/photos to send off to those who made purchases for my #StopAsianHate campaign! V excited to share these with y’all. Thank u for supporting such an important cause🤍
— Louriza Tronco (@LourizaTronco) April 19, 2021
I’ve joined Jemi’s #StopAsianHate campaign! 100% of the proceeds with be going to @hateisavirus_ and @YarrowSociety !! Click the link in my bio to get personalized video messages, signed photos AND MY OG SCRIPTS OF S2 #THEORDER!! 😱🔮🐺
— Louriza Tronco (@LourizaTronco) March 14, 2021
— Bumblefoot (@bumblefoot) March 27, 2021
But this isn’t enough. If you’re reading this, and you have an audience — you can influence. Please do something about it.
If you’d like to join our Jemi campaign directly, you can visit our campaign page here. Otherwise, we’d like to call all our allies to action by speaking up in any and all communities and ensuring Asian voices are always heard.
We look forward to supporting our sisters and brothers of all races and creeds.
About the Authors: Jason Cui and Annie Hwang are the cofounders and Co-CEOs of Jemi — a platform helping creators better engage with and monetize their audiences. The Forbes 30 under 30 in consumer technology pair founded Jemi in April 2020. They come from backgrounds in product management, having led development of products at Facebook, Uber, and Hulu. They studied computer science together at Harvard University and currently live in San Francisco.