Before you read:
- ‘She’s being very Asian’: Viewer criticizes Korean American anchor for talking about dumpling soup on New Year’s Day
- ‘No one is just one thing’: Michelle Li doubles down against racism, launches Very Asian Foundation to amplify AAPI voices
The city of St. Louis has officially named Jan. 19 as “Very Asian Day,” honoring the Very Asian Foundation founded last year by journalist Michelle Li.
Li, an anchor for local TV news station KSDK, launched the Very Asian Foundation on Jan. 19, 2022, after making an appearance on “The Ellen Degeneres Show.”
Li created the foundation to spotlight Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences after she was criticized by a viewer for mentioning dumpling soup she ate on New Year’s Day.
On New Year’s Day 2022, a female viewer left a voicemail with her station complaining that Li was “being very Asian” and that she should “keep her Korean to herself.”
The caller insisted that instead of discussing the dumplings she ate on New Year’s Day, Li should talk about “what white people eat.”
Hours after Li shared the voicemail on social media, messages of support began pouring in, sparking a movement around the hashtag #VeryAsian. People around the world began using the hashtag to post photos of themselves celebrating their Asian heritage, especially pictures of their own New Year’s dumplings.
On Friday, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones proclaimed Jan. 19 as Very Asian Day at the Board of Aldermen meeting.
The declaration opened with background about the foundation, stating:
The Very Asian Foundation launched in St. Louis after Michelle Li, a KSDK news anchor, sparked a global moment of unity after dismantling racism with a message of belonging for all people, including Asian Americans living in St. Louis and in countries around the world.
The Board of Aldermen unanimously voted to officially launch Very Asian Day, which was co-sponsored by the city’s first Asian American alderman, Bret Narayan, and Sharon Tyus.
Oh my gosh, I wish you could see my face right now! Thank you @24thWardSTL Bret Narayan! Our city’s first ever Asian American alderman.
— #VeryAsian Michelle (she/her) (@MichelleLiTV) January 13, 2023
Tyus, St. Louis’ 1st ward alderman, spoke of how she felt honored to be a co-sponsor, stating, “Until we get over this and celebrate for who they are, we still have a long way to go.”
Mayor Jones concluded the declaration with the proclamation:
Now, therefore, I, Tishaura O. Jones, Mayor of the City of St. Louis, do hereby proclaim January 19, 2023, as:
“VERY ASIAN DAY”
IN THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS