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FL's AAPI History Highlighted By Make Us Visible's Activity Book

The activity book makes it fun to learn about the history of Florida's AAPI community.

By Can TranPublished 26 days ago 3 min read

We currently live in a post-COVID world in which the outbreak claimed the lives of thousands of people. Right-wing populist leaders played a fundamental role in the rapid spread of COVID which increased the death toll. One notable victim of the pandemic was activist and journalist Corky Lee (who passed away in 2021 after contracting COVID), the unofficial Asian American photographer laureate.

COVID didn’t discriminate on who it killed.

Other famous victims include former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and WWE superstar Bray Wyatt.

Because the outbreak started in China, without considering the people not paying attention to travel warnings and social distancing, Asians became the convenient scapegoat. Asians are still the scapegoat, despite self-entitled Westerners shrugging off travel warnings. It makes it worse that we still live in a world where people think all East and Southeast Asians look alike or the same.

Anti-AAPI hate has existed and continues to exist in the country. It has been that way since the Chinese Exclusion Act which adversely affected Chinese-Americans for generations. The anti-AAPI hate was further compounded by World War II (the bombing of Pearl Harbor), the Cold War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, attacks against the AAPI community have increased and become more public.

The AAPI community decided that it was time to strike back, not with violence, but with education.

Make Us Visible was established in 2021 with the mission of combatting hate, bullying, and violence with education. As of 2024, Make Us Visible has 24 state chapters. I met Make Us Visible Florida members, who shared a booth with the Wah Lum Kung-Fu Temple, at this year’s Avalon Spring Fest (held each year in Orlando’s Avalon Park neighborhood).

The members collected donations and those who gave $25 received a special activity book that educates readers about Florida’s AAPI history. I donated $25 and grabbed a copy of the book which I skimmed through the following week.

The book contains fun puzzles and coloring pages.

Between the activities, the book contained interesting tidbits that you wouldn’t normally learn in a classroom.

Historical tidbits include Orlando’s Mills 50 neighborhood, which has grown to become one of Florida's largest AAPI cultural hubs. You can find many Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Filipino, and Japanese-owned businesses in Mills 50.

The book also talks about notable Asian Americans in Florida such as Lue Gim Gong aka the “Citrus Wizard” who was instrumental to the state’s citrus industry and created a variant of the Valencia orange called the “Lue Gim Gong,” Eugenie Clark who was well known in the field of marine biology with a specific focus on sharks, Sifu Pui Chan who founded the Wah Lum Kung-Fu Temple which was one of the first Kung-Fu schools in the United States, and Sifu Mimi Chan (Pui Chan’s daughter) who would become the reference model for the titular heroine in Disney’s Mulan.

The book taught me about Boca Raton’s Yamato Colony which was established as an enclave of Japanese American farmers and Jacksonville’s Filipino Community.

If you practice Buddhism or Hinduism, the book lists historical temples in Florida such as the Guang Ming Buddhist Temple in Orlando and the Devi Temple in Newberry.

The artwork of the activity book is high-grade, too, as it’s done by a team of established artists in the comic book industry.

One example is Korean American artist Jim Lee whose work includes illustrations for The Punisher War Journal, Alpha Flight, and more. With Chris Claremont, Jim Lee would be responsible for co-creating Gambit of the X-Men. Lee is also one of the artists who established Image Comics.

Another example is Japanese American artist Stan Sakai who created Usagi Yojimbo.

A lot of work was put into creating this book and it’s worth the $25 donation.

Make Us Visible Florida (MUV FL) successfully got a bill signed into law that mandates public schools to teach AAPI history.

Mimi Chan currently serves as the director of MUV FL.

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About the Creator

Can Tran

I am a seasoned online writer who contributes to a number of platforms under the moniker "AeonXTrigger." I also contribute to Medium, Hubpages, and more.

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    Can TranWritten by Can Tran

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