Asian Hall of Fame Aims to Celebrate Asian Contributions and Fight Anti-Asian Hate

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Seattle politicians and businessmen in suits and cocktail dresses mingled in the jewelry boxes of the Ben Bridge Jeweler in downtown Seattle on Monday night, while Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic played the accordion with Hiro Yamamoto by Soundgarden and other musicians. The eclectic group honored the 2021 Asian Hall of Fame inductees and the 35th anniversary of the Robert Chinn Foundation.

The private induction reception included speeches from many of the city’s prominent politicians and performances by some of its most famous musicians. A virtual induction ceremony will be broadcast live on November 13 at 6 p.m. on the Asian Hall of Fame YouTube channel and Facebook page.

The Asian Hall of Fame was part of the Robert Chinn Foundation, a family philanthropic organization founded by a prominent Seattle financier, until last year when it became its own nonprofit. It is now working to become a well-recognized international organization that celebrates Asian excellence and supports Asians in developing their early career and artistic pursuits with internship programs, grants and public discussions.

Maki Hsieh, CEO of the Robert Chinn Foundation and the Asian Hall of Fame, said the organization has also mobilized for the Stop Asian Hate movement and raised more than $ 150,000 this year to support artistic efforts. trauma survivors, especially those who are victims of anti-Asian hate crimes. Hsieh says she speaks to the cities of Seattle; Nice view ; Pasadena, California; and Glendale, Calif., to find a physical hall of fame for the organization.

At the reception, which was in part a private auction fundraiser for the organization’s causes, Hsieh said recognizing Asian excellence is more important than ever with the recent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.

“We believe that if people and communities knew about Asian contributions to the country, to humanity and to their neighborhoods, there would be no violence,” Hsieh said. “But how can you respect someone when you don’t know what they’ve contributed? And that’s why the Asian Hall of Fame exists.

This year’s 10 inductees come from all over the world and from various fields, including electronic dance music DJ Steve Aoki, former PepsiCo President and CEO Indra Nooyi and the late Brandon Lee, actor and son of Bruce Lee. Until 2019, the Asian Hall of Fame was an annual gala at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle honoring approximately four Asian Americans each year, most of whom had ties to the Seattle area. Previous inductees included speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and former Washington Governor Gary Locke.

King County Director Dow Constantine presented Nooyi, the only inductee who came to the event, a congratulatory letter and proclaimed the day “Robert Chinn Foundation 35e Anniversary Day ”in honor of the foundation, standing with Chinn’s daughter, Karen Wong.

Wong, in an embroidered pale blue suit and a large ruby ​​around her neck, explained how her father started a bank in Seattle at a time when most banks didn’t lend to Asians, and how he founded one of the country’s first Asian countries. philanthropy serving the Asian community in Seattle. Prior to establishing the Asian Hall of Fame, the Robert Chinn Foundation ran the Asian Resource Center in the Chinatown International District until it closed in 2014. She said the foundation launched the Asian Hall of Fame because “It was time for Asians to be recognized”.

Seattle Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell took a moment to celebrate Seattle’s progressive values ​​and the previous week’s election victory.

“At a time when anti-Asian violence is unprecedented, when we see African Americans publicly murdered, the city has had the audacity to elect someone black and Asian,” said Harrell.

During Nooyi’s brief acceptance speech, she said she appreciated his inclusion in the Hall of Fame, as Indians and other Asians are often seen as separate groups. Nooyi is the first Indian to be included in the Asian Hall of Fame. She sits on Amazon’s board of directors and is a regular on Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

Between speeches, famous musicians gathered as guests thronged to eat snacks and drink wine. Krist Novoselic from Nirvana played accordion and acoustic guitar. Hiro Yamamoto of Soundgarden played jazz bass lines with Chicago’s Danny Seraphine on drums. And Jeff Kashiwa of The Rippingtons exchanged lines of improvisation with pianist Ed Roth.

Hsieh says that next year, the Asian Hall of Fame will host an in-person ceremony at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which she hopes will be shown on a platform like Peacock. She believes Asians in Seattle and elsewhere are still not being properly recognized for their contributions and hopes the Asian Hall of Fame can help change that.


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