Asian Pacific American Network (APAN)
The Asian Pacific American Network (APAN) is dedicated to addressing the concerns and issues of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) faculty, staff, and students in higher education. Our purpose is to provide community, professional development, networking, and affirmation of identity for APIDA professionals. APAN represents APIDA issues and advocates for programs, services, research, and actions within the leadership of the Coalition for Multicultural Affairs and ACPA: College Student Educators International.
Connections to New Orleans
New Orleans is a vibrant city known for its lively culture and people. However, the Asian American community’s connection to this city is often less known. Further, according to the most recent data provided by the US Census, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities make up less than .01% of the total New Orleans population.
Roughly five miles downriver from the French Quarter was where Filipino fishers established themselves as early as 1763 as the first permanent Filipino and Asian American settlement in Bayou Saint Malo. This territory would eventually become colonized under the United States (Aráullo, 2021). Saint Malo was the largest fishing village on the lake at the time and was a symbol of growing Filipino presence in Louisiana.
Following the Civil War, the outlawing of slavery in New Orleans prompted plantation owners to seek a new labor force from East and South Asia. The United States Census records 95 Chinese laborers in New Orleans in 1880. These laborers focused on trades such as laundry, cooking, and cigar-making. Between the 1870s-1930s, the first Chinatown in New Orleans was founded on Tulane Avenue, which became a hub for merchants’ groups, grocery stores, and various shops (Chow, 2015). In 1937, these Chinatown merchants lost their lease on Tulane Avenue and ultimately relocated to the 500 block of Bourbon Street to form New Orleans’ second Chinatown, still patronized by New Orleanians of all backgrounds.
Chinatown remained stable in size due to the exclusionary immigration laws that restricted the flow of new Asian immigrants to the United States (Campanella, 2020). As Chinese-Americans in New Orleans became mobile and increasingly middle class in the 1920s, they became less dependent on their Chinatown enclave. From the 1940s to the 1990s, the number of businesses that comprised New Orleans Chinatown dwindled from 10 to 3 (Campanella, 2020).
In the present day, the Vietnamese enclaves of the New Orleans area are much more commonly known and associated with New Orleans Asian American presence and culture. As Vietnamese refugees fled the Communist regime at the end of the Vietnam War (mid-1970s), a large number of refugees were resettled in Louisiana due to United States refugee resettlement programs. The sub-tropical climate and proximity to water appealed to many Vietnamese immigrants and refugees who eventually settled in both the suburban neighborhoods of New Orleans East (closer to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport) and the Village de l’Est and New Orleans West Bank neighborhoods.
Many Vietnamese immigrants identified as Catholic (due to French colonization in Vietnam) and found connection and support from the several Catholic charities that were working at the time to assist Vietnamese immigrants to find jobs, secure housing, and get acclimated to the area (New Orleans Vietnamese Culture). In 2005, Hurricane Katrina had a particular impact in integrating the Vietnamese community with the greater New Orleans community via community recovery efforts. This prompted the Vietnamese community to engage with the New Orleans and Louisiana governments, seeking infrastructural aid for their enclaves. In 2017, New Orleans elected Cyndi Nguyen, the first Asian American citizen to hold public office on the New Orleans City Council (Hiltner, 2018).
Aráullo, K. (2021, May 10). The earliest Asian American settlement was established by Filipino fishermen. History.com. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.history.com/news/first-asian-american-settlement-filipino-st-malo
Campanella, R. (2015, March 5). The lost history of New Orleans’ two Chinatowns. NOLA.com. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.nola.com/entertainment_life/home_garden/the-lost-history-of-new-orleans-two-chinatowns/article_e1ecdfe5-3419-5ecf-8143-b14b98c2a389.html
Chow, K. (2015, March 6). The fascinating story of New Orleans’ two lost Chinatowns. NPR Code Switch. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/03/06/391216309/the-fascinating-story-of-new-orleans-two-lost-chinatowns
Hiltner, S. (2018, May 5). Vietnamese forged a community in New Orleans. Now it may be fading. The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/05/us/vietnamese-forged-a-community-in-new-orleans-now-it-may-be-fading.html
New Orleans Vietnamese culture. NewOrleans.com. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://www.neworleans.com/things-to-do/multicultural/cultures/vietnamese/
CNN: Vietnam to New Orleans: A legacy of survival: https://youtu.be/oTU0zntbCo4
AJ+: The Untold Story Of America’s Southern Chinese [Chinese Food: An All-American Cuisine, Pt. 2]: https://youtu.be/2NMrqGHr5zE
Eater: The Vietnamese Restaurant That Brought A Community Together After Katrina: https://youtu.be/NOHKUyjsllk
WWLTV: First Asian American elected to New Orleans City Council: https://youtu.be/XmMMJ7BIqDE
Local organizations and businesses to support:
Our APIDA communities have a rich history in the New Orleans area. Due to our communities’ histories of refugee resettlement, immigration, and displacement, many APIDA-owned businesses are not within walking distance of ACPA’s Convention site. However, some walking distanced businesses to support include:
Dian Xin – with two locations, this is an intimate, casual Chinese restaurant serving staple foods such as dumplings, noodles, jianbing, and meat dishes
Location 1: 1218 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
Location 2: 620 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Mr. Bubbles Cafe – a local and small family business serving boba drinks, Banh Mi, Wraps, Soups, and Salads
1441 Canal Street #1 New Orleans, LA 70112
Other districts in the New Orleans Area where our community has settled and continues to thrive include (but are not limited to): Metairie, Harvey, and Village De L’Est. With the New Orleans metropolitan area being incredibly vast and comprising several neighborhoods, we encourage readers to consider patronizing New Orleans Asian-owned restaurants and businesses outside of the French Quarter, if they are able. For your convenience, we uplift the “Asian-Owned NOLA” Google Sheets directory, a resource created by a fellow Asian American Student Affairs colleague, Dr. Stephen Deaderick (a.k.a. @stepheneatsstl, formerly @thenola15, on Instagram). Here, Asian-owned restaurants and businesses are categorized by ethnic cuisine, meal/business types, etc. This directory also offers information redirecting patrons to other local dining influencers on social media who uplift Black- and Latinx-owned restaurants and businesses of New Orleans.
Final Thoughts to Share
Food in Asian American culture is more than just a form of nourishment, but often a way of expression, care, and love. Within New Orleans, the community has come to show a deep appreciation for Asian food culture. In the 1970s, New Orleans was a city that became prominent for welcoming refugees, many of which were Vietnamese. This introduced the bành mì sandwich to New Orleans, also known as “po’ boy country.” Both the bành mì and the po’ boy, iconic in their own respects, are staples to the New Orleans food culture even though the latter is more commonly associated with the city.
How New Orleans Birthed a Vietnamese Po ‘Boy Movement (2017). YouTube. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from https://youtu.be/DGnOeS-0oQ8.
VICE Asia: New Orleans’ Vietnamese Food Scene: https://youtu.be/BcW6vFesO6E
Pan African Network (PAN)
The unique history of the Pan African Network is grounded in much of what’s documented about The Standing Committee on Multicultural Affairs (CMA). The Standing Committee on Multicultural Affairs saw its beginnings at the April 11, 1968 Executive Council meeting of the American College Personnel Association when the Task Force on Race and the College Community was established. This Task Force was charged with submitting a final report of its findings the following year. At the March 30, 1969 meeting, this report was accepted and included a request for the funding and support of the Black Task Force Committee.
The Black Task Force Committee was created to ensure that sensitivity was given to the presence and needs of Black faculty, staff, and students. Initially, it was understood that the committee would convene on a temporary basis; but the association soon realized that the needs of its Pan African population were especially complex and could not be remedied by temporary solutions. Therefore, the Black Task Force Committee remained active within the larger organization. Within a few years of its development, the work of the Task Force purportedly conflicted with the Commission’s already established in ACPA, both with regard to meeting schedules and the availability of ACPA resources. Soon, the Task Force was perceived solely as a space for Black members by the ACPA delegation rather than a cooperative entity pursuant of minority interests. This conflict was exacerbated by the fact that ACPA Senators were voting on minority issues without seeking input from the Task Force, as it was regarded as an exclusively Black establishment.
In 1975, dialogue surrounding the inclusion of other races and ethnicities evolved into a discussion on the purpose of the Task Force. As a result, the Black Task Force transitioned into the Minority Task Force. The ACPA Minority Task Force served as a vehicle for informing ACPA’s approach to implementing services inclusive of minority counter-narratives, perspectives, and ascribed needs. The Minority Task Force aided the American College Personnel Association in formulating and implementing appropriate and effective development services designed to enhance the quality of life of the minority constituents of American colleges and universities. The Minority Task Force focused on the following groups of students’ higher education:
- Black American Students attending White institutions
- Adult Learners (beyond the age of 25)
- Handicapped Students
- Native American Students
- Mexican American Students
- International Students
In 1976, a position paper was drafted outlining the focus of the Minority Task Force. Within this temporal context, individuals designated as minorities were those identifying as Black, Native American, Spanish-speaking American, and Asian American. A structure for each identity group began to emerge and the organization soon solicited input from the Task Force on racial matters. The Minority Task Force operated with a limited budget, but successfully maintained a significant degree of programmatic activity. Due to its effectiveness and high levels of success, the group pushed for legitimate recognition within ACPA. In 1977, the proposal for task force conversion was included on the convention agenda. While the mechanics of the proposed change were set in motion, the minority Task Force was unable to attain backing from general membership to support the change during the Denver, Colorado convention.
While Commission status was not granted to the Minority Task Force during the 1977 convention, the entity successfully transitioned into the Standing Committee on Multicultural Affairs during the 1979 convention in Los Angeles, California. The following year, several projects were completed, including an in-depth needs assessment survey. The purpose of the survey was to determine minorities’ expectations for ACPA and the Committee on Multicultural Affairs. Over the years, each chairperson contributed to the advancement of the Standing Committee and furthered its mission. In 1987, the infrastructure of the Committee was reorganized and identity-based subcommittees were developed. Respectively, these subgroups served as the precursors to the Pan African Network, the Latino/a Network, the Asian Pacific American Network, and the Native American Network. As CMA continues to grow and expand upon its services and resources, it has also provided a platform for its members to develop and move up the ranks within ACPA and other Associations. Notably, the majority of the identity-based groups that are currently available in the contemporary structure of ACPA can be attributed to the Black Task Force.
Connection to NOLA
The first documented people of African descent arrived in New Orleans in 1719. This group arrived from the Senegambia region of West Africa. As a result of their inhumane treatment and forced labor, the African descendants cleared forests, raised crops, and built the city infrastructure that is known today. By the year of 1803, there was approximately 3,000 enslaved people of African ancestry and 1,335 free people of color. These communities accounted for over 51 percent of the city’s total population. There was a variety of dialects within the communities as a result of ongoing slave trade and native born Black people to the area. Thus, the birth of black Creoles. Over the next half century, the African descendent population would expand to nearly 175,000.
According to local sources, African culture has an enormous impact on what we now know as New Orleans culture influencing everything from food to music to religion. For example, the Congo Square is a place where African slaves and laborers congregated to trade goods, play music, dance, and socialize. Some would say that the Congo Square is one of the most memorable sites in the nation regarding the understanding of American music. The city is also known as the birthplace of jazz. This genre emerged in local neighborhoods in the late 1800s. These leading artists created “a distinctive rhythm & blues style that helped birth rock ’n’ roll, in gospel and funk, and in rap, hip hop, bounce and brass band”. The city of New Orleans will forever be known for is music, food, and soul created for Black people by Black people.
Local organizations and businesses to support:
New Orleans has a rich history of social justice, activism and philanthropy. We wanted to highlight just a few social service and philanthropic organizations.
Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC): OPPRC are fighting for a smaller jail, a more humane justice system, and a safer New Orleans. This organizations believes in #Carenotcages. Here is their website info.
Vera New Orleans: This organization opened in 2006 during the city’s post-Katrina efforts. Today, it is home to Vera Louisiana, Vera’s place-based initiative working to advance justice reform across the state. Over more than fifteen years, Vera has successfully worked to reduce the number of people held in local jails, advocated for data-driven reform, and partnered with people in the local New Orleans justice system, city leaders, and community organizations.
Operation Restoration:Formed in 2016 and led by formerly incarcerated women, Operation Restoration’s (OR) mission is to support women and girls impacted by incarceration to recognize their full potential, restore their lives, and discover new possibilities. Here is their website info.
New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice:The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (Workers’ Center) was founded as a workers’ rights and racial justice response to the man-made disaster called Hurricane Katrina. Against the backdrop of a political economy that pitted communities of color against each other, a group of black and immigrant workers came together from public housing developments, FEMA trailer parks, day labor corners, and labor camps across Louisiana to build a new freedom movement: multi-racial; committed to racial, gender, and immigrant justice; and dedicated to building power at the intersection of race and the economy. Over a decade later, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice continues to be a vehicle for black and immigrant workers to come build grassroots campaigns with a local and national impact. Here is their website info.
Multiracial Network (MRN)
The primary goal of the MultiRacial Network (MRN) is to raise consciousness and awareness of multiracial issues in higher education. This year, they are celebrating their 20th anniversary!
The Multiracial Network (MRN) strives to help create and foster inclusive spaces within ACPA and postsecondary education with and for students, staff, and professionals who identify as multiracial, multiethnic, transracial adoptees, and with fluid racial identities. This will be accomplished through developing intentional educational initiatives, engaging in critical dialogue and community building, and supporting institutional change through advocacy on our campuses and within the larger ACPA organization.
The Multiracial Network (MRN) seeks to be inclusive and welcomes everyone who is interested in advancing the organization’s goals.
Learn more about the Multiracial Network at https://myacpa.org/groups/mrn/ or by following us on social media, @acpa_mrn
Connections to NOLA
Louisiana and New Orleans have often been at the heart of conversations around multiraciality and multiethnicity in the United States. During the period of slavery while under Spanish rule, unlike a majority of places within what would become the United States, Louisiana had a three-part racial system: free whites, Black slaves, and free people of color (many of whom were mixed race). In 1805, 19% of the city were free people of color, compared to other states like Kentucky and Tennessee where 98% of Black people were enslaved. Free people of color were able to own land and had many rights. It was through the Americanization of the territory that the population was funneled into a racial binary of solely Black or White.
For two centuries, “Creole” had been the dominant term used to describe a region in South Louisiana’s people and culture; Cajuns existed, but prior to the 1960s they did not self-identify as such in large numbers. For Cajuns were—and are—a subset of Louisiana Creoles. Originally, the term Creole did not carry a racial designation, it was tied to the colony location, and their propensity to be French-speaking and Catholic. Today, common understanding holds that Cajuns are white and Creoles are Black or mixed race; Creoles are from New Orleans, while Cajuns populate the rural parts of South Louisiana.
This historical mixing of identities made way for a number of activists and leading civil rights litigants who were multiracial, many who identified as Creole. For example, Homer Plessy (Plessy v. Ferguson – “Separate but Equal”). Plessy’s loss further solidified the black/white binary. Creole culture was also instrumental in forms such as food and music (such as Zydeco).
Local Organizations/Businesses to support:
Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
2301 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans LA 70119
Founder was Creole and multi-ethnic (African American, Spanish, and French)
NOLA Zydeco Fest
March 25, 2023 from 11am – 7:30pm
Crescent Park, 100 Mandeville St., New Orleans, LA 70117
Zydeco music was born out of the cross-cultural mix of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences in Louisiana
Additional Places to hear Zydeco music: https://www.tripsavvy.com/new-orleans-cajun-and-zydeco-music-1604753
To find a list of cultural museums available in New Orleans, click here: https://www.neworleans.com/things-to-do/cultural-arts/museums/multicultural-museums/