CLEVELAND — For 3 years, LJ Shanghai on Superior Avenue has been the place to go to get authentic Chinese food. But this year, there’s new signage outside of the restaurant that warns outsiders the business is protected by a gun owner.
The owner of the restaurant known as L.J. did not want News 5 to use her full name.
“The pandemic makes everyone feel not so comfortable and I don’t feel safe, now, so I lock this door and mostly only do carry out,” she said.
She said since the pandemic, she has experienced micro-aggressions, including harassing phone calls to the restaurant.
“He [the caller] said I wanted to order something to go, to pick up, I said ‘Oh, for sure what do you want?’ I want to order bat,” said L.J., recounting one phone call.
She said she’s received other ones, too.
“Because you made the virus you should give us money. I’ve had people say that to me, as well,” she said.
According to the Stop AAPI research forum, since the start of the pandemic there’s been nearly 4,000 racist incidents targeting Asians, but experts predict there are hundreds more that are not reported.
Lawmakers, like OH Rep. Stephanie Howse and Rep. Tavia Galonski are working to lower that number. They’ve introduced legislation that will create a commission called the Ohio Asian-American and Pacific Islander Affairs Commission. Rep. Howse said it will address the needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Ohio.
“Looking for actual solutions and making some investments to address the problems, as well as overall educating Ohioans on the culture of our AAPI community and just lifting up the voices,” said Rep. Howse.
Elaine Tso is the CEO of Asian Services in Action or A.S.I.A. She said discrimination is not new but due to COVID19 it has spiked.
“To blame an entire race for the pandemic is morally wrong,” said Tso. “Community members don't feel safe going to grocery stores or traveling alone.”
Tso said a simple thing we can all do to be an ally, is to just speak out against acts of discrimination and show support.
“You can use your voice to make a statement against the horrific acts that have been committed against the the Asian community,” she said.
L.J. said, for the most part, people she encounters are very welcoming and respectful.
“We still got lots of support from our neighbors and this community,” she said. “ It is my country, as well. I will do everything for this country.”
But said a little understanding will go a long way.
“Let’s work together to make this country, this world, much more beautiful and strong,” she said.
The Asian American Federation has a free handbook for the Asian community with methods to stay safe. You can download it here.