San Diego

How to Support San Diego's Asian-American Pacific Islander Community Right Now

There's no place for hate in San Diego.

Pacific Arts Movement
Pacific Arts Movement
Pacific Arts Movement

In the days since the mass shootings at Atlanta massage parlors, we’ve seen an outpouring of shock, anger, and grief for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, who were the target of an anti-Asian hate crime that left eight people dead, six of them women of Asian descent.

Unfortunately, anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting group created in response, released a report that showed a total of 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate in the United States from March 19 to December 31, 2020. Incidents ranged from verbal harassment and avoidance to physical assault, with women being targeted 2.5 times more than men, and 7.3% incidents involving victims over 60 years of age.

In San Diego County, the AAPI community makes up 12% of our population, representing more than 400,000 citizens and an estimated 30,000 AAPI-owned businesses, according to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). As fellow San Diegans, we must stand in support of our Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander friends, neighbours, co-workers, family, and community members and condemn all forms of anti-Asian hate. It’s time to denounce the xenophobic, coronavirus-related rhetoric of 2020 and become real advocates for a community that truly helps make San Diego America’s Finest City. Here are seven ways you can uplift San Diego’s AAPI communities right now:

Support local nonprofits and community organizations

Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA) San Diego is a grassroots, non-political nonprofit that promotes increased AAPI civic participation through education and voter registration, leadership programs for secondary school and college students, and fellowship/mentorship opportunities for adults to prepare them for judicial, appointed, and elected office. The Asian Pacific American Coalition (APAC) seeks to improve the quality of life for AAPI with education, empowerment through voter involvement and engagement by support of AAPI cultural and educational events. Volunteering for either organization is a great first step if you want to become an advocate for the AAPI community through community service, or donate if you are able.

Patronize AAPI-owned restaurants and bars 

One of the easiest ways to support San Diego’s AAPI community is to spend your dollars at AAPI-owned restaurants and bars. The Convoy Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District is a great place to start, but other areas of the city have their own unique enclaves. Little Saigon is home to Pho Hoa, Tita’s Kitchenette is a Plaza Boulevard-area favourite and Mira Mesa is the destination for Bolsa and Filipino fast food at Jollibee. Sweeten the pot by buying gift cards for friends or yourself, grabbing some merch and of course, tipping generously.

For a comprehensive list of Asian-owned restaurants in San Diego, check out HelpAsianBiz, a website created by North Coast high school senior Kaia Culotta. Thrillist spoke to Culotta about her inspiration for taking on the project. “I first started hearing news stories last year about Asians facing discrimination because some people were unjustly connecting them to the origins of the coronavirus. Because of this, some people were deliberately avoiding Asian-owned small businesses, which were already struggling because of pandemic restrictions” she stated, explaining further, “As someone who’s very proud of my Asian heritage and whose grandparents owned a small business, I was inspired to help. I realized there was no easily accessible list of Asian-owned restaurants in San Diego, so I decided to create one.”

Using a free online course, Culotta spent roughly 300 hours teaching herself to code, earning certification in Responsive Web Design before creating the web page. With help from the Asian Business Association of San Diego, she researched and linked restaurants across San Diego County, grouping them by geographic area such as City of San Diego, Coast, North County and others. To contribute a restaurant to the project, use the link on the HelpAsianBiz home page.

Shop at AAPI-owned grocery and retail stores

Get sushi-grade tuna, fresh wasabi root and tubs of miso at Marukai Market, then walk across the parking lot to Marukai Living for an amazing variety of cosmetics, porcelain, and electronics, or wander the aisles of Marukai Value for hard-to-find Hawaiian snacks, boruto body pillows, and unique flavors of Twix and Spam. Zion Market specializes in Korean food and houses the excellent Paris Baguette bakery, while VÄ©nh HĆ°ng features Vietnamese pantry staples, specialty cuts of meat and banh bao.

Support AAPI arts and entertainment 

The San Diego arts and cultural scene wouldn’t be the same without the contributions of organizations like Pacific Arts Movement, whose flagship event, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, takes place in Fall 2021 and is currently accepting submissions. Support them by volunteering, donating and/or purchasing tickets for the SDAFF and other showcases.

Report hate crimes

All hate-based harassment and other incidents, regardless of severity, should be reported and if you or someone else is in immediate danger, call local authorities to report it as soon as possible. Visit Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice to report an incident of anti-Asian hate, which helps them gather data for further efforts in educational resources, policies, and protection.

Learn how to intervene safely

We’ve all seen videos of Asian Americans and other minorities on the receiving end of public harassment in stores, on public transportation, and on the street, with bystanders casually watching it happen. You may want to offer help, but you’re understandably afraid. You know who else is afraid? The person being bullied, intimidated, and humiliated. But how can you intervene safely? Hollaback! is a grassroots initiative to raise awareness of and combat street harassment while avoiding directly confronting the aggressor. They’ve put together a free guide for bystander intervention and a free interactive, virtual bystander intervention and de-escalation training, including youth training, online, voter, sexual, police-sponsored, and other harassment situations.

Check in on your friends

Don’t assume that your friends are okay just because they aren’t talking to you about AAPI violence. Reach out in a call, a text, or arrange a safely distanced visit and let them know that you care about their wellbeing and safety. Tell them you’re available if they feel unsafe or need to talk. Be the ally they need right now.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.

San Diego

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego

Check out female-led dance programs, pop up markets, beer dinners, and more events this March.

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Women have played a huge part shaping San Diego into the city it is today. In celebration of Women’s History Month, there are a variety of events across the city that commemorate women’s contributions to our community and culture. Home to the Women’s Museum of California, which hosts events throughout the year, be sure to check out all the ways to support and honor women this month. From art exhibits to dance performances, pop-up markets and yoga, check out the best events to celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego:

Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art

Discover works from overlooked women artists

Ongoing through November 7, 2023
Balboa Park
The San Diego Museum of Art currently has 20 modern and contemporary works of art on display from women who unjustly didn’t receive the same amount of fame as their male contemporaries. The museum’s Modern Women exhibit is your chance to see work from artists like Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, who were overshadowed by artist husbands Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock but whose work has long deserved its own moment in the spotlight. The collection showcases pieces that range from acrylic paintings to photography, inviting us into an untapped artistic sphere.
Cost: $20

Practice Sun Salutations while supporting a good cause

Saturday, March 4, 10 am to 11 am
Pacific Beach
Make a difference in the lives of teen girls of colour while taking a yoga class at Kate Sessions Park. Organized by local nonprofit One Love Movement, all donations for the event go towards college scholarships for girls of the DETOUR F.A.N.C.Y. Expo & Leadership Academy, a mentorship program that promotes equity and inclusion in higher education for girls of colour. All while enjoying stunning views of Mission Bay.
Cost: Donation-based

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Shop local women-owned businesses

Sunday, March 5, 1 pm to 5 pm
What better way to celebrate the women in your community than by supporting their local businesses? The Women’s History Month Market, located in the FEMX Quarters venue, is a pop up market you don’t want to miss. The market will feature over 35 vendors from women artisans and you’ll find uniquely crafted sunglasses, jewellery, clothing, and more. The family-friendly (and pet-friendly) event will also include food and music.
Cost: Free

Drink beer crafted by female brewers on International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Women were the original brewers of ale, after all, so it only makes sense to honour our past and present beer connoisseurs with dinner and brews. Located at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone International Women’s Day Beer Dinner features three courses, each paired with a tasty beer specially brewed by a team of women at Stone Brewery. The event is part of a larger global celebration for International Women’s Day, where brewers all over the world brew a speciality beer that supports The Pink Boots Society, a non profit that empowers women and non-binary people in the beer industry through scholarships and education. Grab your tickets while you can! 21+
Cost: $50-$70

Attend an exhibition celebrating female and non-binary artists

Saturday, March 11, 5:00 pm
Barrio Logan
Head over to the entertainment and community venue Corazon del Barrio and show your support to female and non-binary artists, whose art and music will be featured in the Diosa Art Show. Around 40 artists are on the bill at this all-ages event.
Cost: Free

Drink some pints for the pups

Saturday, March 11, 12 pm to 4 pm
Carmel Mountain
If you need another excuse to down some brews, Second Chance Beer Company is hosting its first ever Ladies & Pups Market for Women’s History Month. The brewery, which holds various events throughout the year, donates a percentage of its sales to animal rescue organizations in California and Arizona. The dog-friendly market will include pop ups from women-owned businesses such as Bold Bouquet, Wet Nose Pottery, and No, You Sit! Treats. For the occasion, Second Chance will serve Fistful of Gummies – Berry Edition, a rendition of their fruited sour beer created in collaboration with Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women and non-binary individuals in the beer industry.
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Women's Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California

Attend a ceremony at the Women’s Museum of California

Saturday, March 18, 11 am to 1 pm
Perhaps San Diego’s largest Women’s History Month event, the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes local women for their achievements in the community. The annual event, which takes place at Joan B. Kroc Theatre, is a project of the Women’s Museum of California, a museum dedicated to educating the public about women’s contributions through history with exhibits, programs, and events. Over 100 women have been inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame since the program was founded in 2001, and this year’s class includes notable women like activist Norma Chávez-Peterson and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The event includes a VIP brunch followed by the Induction Ceremony. Be sure to purchase tickets early to secure your spot.
Cost: $20-$150

Join a community of local women and get inspired

Monday, March 20, 5 pm to 7:30 pm
The Women’s Speaker Series at Alesmith Brewing Company is a monthly community gathering where local women come together to support one another in achieving professional and personal goals. The event includes a social hour followed by a selected speaker. For this month, the Women’s Speaker Series features career coach and small business owner Laura Bashore, who will share her insight on how you can advance your career or business. Make sure to reserve your spot before attending!
Cost: Free

Come hear about the roles San Diego women played during World War II

Tuesday, March 21, 1 pm to 3 pm
Mission Valley
In the early 20th century, many women were not allowed or expected to be the breadwinners for their households, but things suddenly changed with the United States’ entry into World War II. Here’s your chance to learn about the real experiences of women who lived through WWll and how they navigated through it all. Presented by Oasis San Diego, head over to Mission Valley Library to attend this in-person event.
Cost: Free

Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project

Attend a ballet program choreographed entirely by women

Thursday, March 23 – Saturday, March 25 & Monday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Liberty Station
Experience not one but three world premiere ballet performances at The Rosin Box Project, a contemporary ballet company that works to redefine the concept of dance and how it’s experienced for both artists and audiences. To coincide with Women’s History Month, TRBP is kicking off its 2023 season with Empower, a female-led ballet program choreographed by TRBO Residents Lauren Flower, Bethany Green, and Carly Topazio. The program, which takes place at Light Box Theater, offers a fresh take on dance by pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet. Your ticket includes a post-show reception.
Cost: $45

Hear music by a little-known female early 20th-century composer

Friday, March 24, 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm
Balboa Park
While you may not be familiar with composer Alice Barnett Stevenson, she played an integral part in San Diego’s music scene during the early 1900s. Stevenson was an active member of various music organizations at the time, and she composed art songs for voice and piano and performed at schools all over the country. Her home became a hub for local recitals from visiting musicians, and was also where the San Diego Symphony was founded. This month, you can hear her compositions performed live for the first time in nearly 100 years at the San Diego History Center. Selected works by Stevenson will be performed by musical scholar Katina Mitchell and pianist Yewon Lee. Be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time.
Cost: $25-$40

Listen to Black San Diego women discuss important community issues

Saturday, March 25, 12 pm to 4 pm
Valencia Park
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Friends of Malcolm X Library are hosting Ain’t I a Woman, an event featuring Black women who will be speaking about their professions and discussing the challenges faced within the workplace and the community while offering suggestions on how to further enhance and embrace equality. The event includes a Q&A panel discussion, door prizes, free raffles, as well as music, poetry, and dance. Seating is limited so be sure to reserve your spot early.
Cost: Free event. Lunch purchase is $15.

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Michelle Harris is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Over the years her writing has also appeared in Atlas Obscura, Mental Floss, and Audubon Magazine. When she’s not busy typing, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and cooking vegan food.


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