After the increase of attacks on Asian Americans since COVID-19, the Atlanta Spa Shootings that occurred on March 16, 2021 and rise of the Stop Asian Hate movement, Waverley Leung and Emmanuel Jose came together to work on Start Asian Love as their own way to take action. Since the first version of the website, the team has grown to include Sandy Dai and Daniel Kwon who bring their own voices and experiences. We hope to continue growing Start Asian Love to fight against injustice and for equality.
Since the rise of hate crimes and violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAPI community has been left grappling with feelings of fear, helplessness, anger, and alienation. It's in this climate where we've started to unpack our identity and perspectives as Asian Americans while asking hard questions about our place in this country: Where are the Asian American figures and stories in American history and culture? Are we an invisible race?
Start Asian Love was created to be a space where the community can celebrate their heritage by learning about prominent AAPI figures and stories. It's a space to connect over our shared experiences and make a positive impact by transforming our feelings of helplessness and rage into civic engagement and action. Start Asian Love is our platform to say we belong here, we're not invisible and to embrace being unapologetically Asian.
"Start Asian Love has allowed me to use my new knowledge and skills from transitioning into tech to make a meaningful positive impact in the world."
Born and raised in NYC, Waverley Leung is a proud "ABC" (American Born Chinese). She has a creative background as a dancer and arts administrator, and found a new way to express herself through coding. As someone with many interests, she embraces being a beginner and is passionate about learning, growth, and collaboration. Through Start Asian Love, Waverley hopes to inspire others to unite under a common goal and find ways they can use their skills to stand up for their values. In her free time, you can often find Waverley exploring culture through food.
"What does it mean to be unapologetically Asian? Start Asian Love is helping me to answer that question as I discover my voice and power as an Asian American."
Born in Quezon City in the Philippines, Emmanuel Jose immigrated to the United States at the age of 6. Emmanuel is a proud gay Filipino American and artist-turned-coder, with a penchant for turning paper into art. He views tech as an exciting, evolving medium full of possibility, believes that inaction is not an option, and hopes that Start Asian Love becomes a platform for education, expression, and empowerment for all. In his free time, Emmanuel can be found with his partner wheeling their two spoiled rescue pups in a stroller on the streets of Washington Heights in NYC.
"In contributing to Start Asian Love, I, too, can remain in touch with my heritage while doing my part as a fellow Asian American to support the community."
Sandy Dai is a Chinese-American software developer from NYC. Growing up with immigrant parents and spending a majority of her adolescent school years in Manhattan Chinatown gave her a personal attachment to her heritage and the lively neighborhood. Amidst the rising number of anti-Asian hate crimes reported all over social media, she was immediately drawn to Start Asian Love’s initiative and knew she wanted to be a part of it. In her free time, you can find Sandy at the latest food spots or exploring the coolest attractions NYC always has to offer.
"I joined Start Asian Love to share AAPI stories that engender feelings of positivity and belonging in our community—a community that has been made to feel like outsiders in our own country for generations."
Born in South Korea, Daniel immigrated to the United States at the age of two to Queens, New York. Shaped by his upbringing and healthcare background, Daniel views coding as a powerful engine for social good and collaboration. Through SAL, Daniel hopes to combat AAPI hate through empowerment, education and by reclaiming the narrative around the AAPI experience in America. During his free time, you can find Daniel and his fiancée strolling through Riverside Park and rock climbing at Steep Rock West.