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Viral Histories: Asian Americans and the Food Service Industry

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Social Studies +5 Age Levels High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary, Adults

How do we maintain strength and community after an emergency is over? 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have been experiencing increased racism and hate crimes. While these incidents of increased prejudice and violence occur today, they reflect a long history of how power, prejudice, and public health have intersected throughout American history. For Asian Pacific American History Month, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History held conversations in a series called Viral Histories: Stories of Racism, Resilience, and Resistance in Asian American Communities, with community leaders combating racism while serving on the front lines. Community leaders shared their first-hand experience with historians who connect these experiences to the past.  

In this topical collection, co-hosts Theodore S. Gonzalves, Smithsonian National Museum of American History Curator of Asian Pacific American History, and Lintaro Donovan, High School Student and Civic Leader, interview Genevieve Villamora, co-owner of the Washington, DC-based restaurant Bad Saint, about the impacts of COVID-19 on the food service industry. 

This topical collection aims to contextualize what we learn from Genevieve Villamora's interview by providing additional information about the history of Asian Americans in the American food service industry and stories about Asian American foodways. As you explore the resources in this collection, and reflect on Genevieve Villamora's interview, we ask you to consider this question for self-reflection or discussion: How do we maintain strength and community after an emergency is over?