Community Spotlight
Photo: Cafe Cà Phê | Instagram
Kansas City's first Vietnamese coffee shop
In the fall of 2020, former Broadway actress and first-generation Vietnamese American Jackie Nguyen opened Cafe Cà Phê in Kansas City, MO. Through Cafe Cà Phê, Nguyen has introduced the city to Asian drinks like lychee salted lemonade and, of course, cà phê sữa đá. With local Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, she shares a space of familiarity and a bicultural reimagination of the flavors we know best. 

She also brings to the table a relentless passion for uplifting the local AAPI and Southeast Asian American communities. In the wake of rising anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021, Nguyen and her team raised thousands of dollars in donations and shared the funds with other local AAPI-owned businesses. Even now, Cafe Cà Phê’s social media is consistently vocal in promoting AAPI-owned businesses, different aspects of AAPI cultures, and AAPI creatives. 

Work like this has been an important way of making ourselves known, especially as Kansas City has seen a lack of representation despite its Asian American population of about 45,000. It shows that as we work to uplift ourselves, we work also to extend a hand to everyone around us—visibly and proudly so. Cafe Cà Phê is currently closed as the staff prepares to soon open their brick-and-mortar location. You can read more about them on their website here.
SEARAC shares SEAA experiences at Data Equity Summit
SEARAC’s team joined the White House, AAPI Data, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans earlier this month to discuss the importance of data for Southeast Asian American communities and respond to the changes happening within federal agencies. Our team emphasized that SEAA refugee communities have a unique and fundamentally different experience compared to the Asian American community that continues to shape their ability to access federal programs and services. Watch the full livestream of the equity summit here.
A historic California state budget
California Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed his revised May budget this month with the budget surplus projected at $97.5 billion, the largest in history. Newsom’s proposal includes significant investments to housing and rental assistance, schools and community colleges, and inflation relief. Notably, we applaud Gov. Newsom’s commitment to expanding Health4All to all eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status; continuing healthcare coverage enrollment support; and allocating funds to support health providers and community-based organizations in collecting and sharing health disparities data. State legislators must now pass the budget by June 15. 
Rep. Chu Introduces AANHPI Mental Health Day Resolution
Rep. Chu, alongside Reps. Kahele, Matsui, and Strickland, introduced a resolution to recognize May 10 as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day. This resolution is an important step toward destigmatizing mental health and acknowledging the diverse needs of our communities as we access meaningful mental health services. You can read SEARAC’s statement on the resolution’s introduction here
COVID booster now available for children ages 5-11
The CDC recommends a vaccine booster for children ages 5 to 11 five months after their recent Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine dose. The booster shot significantly increases protection against COVID-19. Booster shots are available anywhere COVID-19 vaccines are available and are free regardless of insurance or immigration status. The Pfizer booster is the only brand currently available to children ages 5 to 11. Call ahead to make sure the location you choose has the age-appropriate Pfizer vaccine available.
Households can order additional free at-home COVID tests
On May 17, the Biden Administration announced that households can order an additional eight free COVID tests from the USPS. Testing is an important tool to stop the spread of the virus and keep our communities safe. Tests can be ordered by visiting any time or by calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489) to get help in English, Spanish, and more than 150 other languages 8am to midnight ET, 7 days a week.
Reps. Lowenthal, Correa, Steel introduce anti-deportation bill
Earlier this month, Rep. Lowenthal, joined by Reps. Correa and Steel, introduced the Honor Our Commitment Act. The bill would codify the deportation protections for Vietnamese individuals who arrived in the United States prior to July 12, 1995 from the 2008 US-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding. You can view SEARAC’s full statement here
SEARAC Director of National Policy, Kham S. Moua, and Executive Director, Quyen Dinh, at the White House celebration for AANHPI Heritage Month in May 2022 (photo courtesy of Kham S. Moua)
SEARAC joins AAPI leaders in combating anti-Asian violence 
Earlier this month, SEARAC gave remarks in remembrance of victims of anti-Asian violence, alongside other Asian American leaders, including representatives from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Matsui, and celebrities like Daniel Dae Kim. In our remarks, SEARAC highlighted the Southeast Asian refugee students who were victims of the 1989 Stockton shooting. Our team also emphasized the direct connection between individual and state-sanctioned violence and how solutions must focus on investment into our communities, rather than on punitive measures. 
SEARAC in the News
Prism, Axios uplift the need for data disaggregation
As we close out AANHPI Heritage Month, we would like to recognize not just the stories we tell in words but the stories to be found in our numbers

The “Asian American” identity was established by student activists in the late 1960s as a move toward political solidarity. Though this was effective in enacting change for the AANHPI community, applying this broader “Asian” category to demographic data paints over the complex struggles of the unique communities that make Asian America. With this comes the creation of myths that illustrate all Asian Americans as successful model minorities, overlooking where we can further support underrepresented groups. 

Data disaggregation, or the categorization of specific AANHPI ethnicities, is an important step forward in remedying these issues. Reporter and Reappropriate founder Jenn Fang gives us a fuller story in Prism, while Erica Pandey, Jacque Schrag, and Thomas Oide illustrate the numbers in Axios

“When federal, state, and institutional policymakers have access to more detailed data,” said former SEARAC Education Policy Advocate Anna Byon, “they can enact evidence-based policies that address inequities….”
Staff Blog
Jazmin Garrett: "A love letter to the women who raised me"
In this month’s staff blog, our Field Associate Jazmin Garrett shares a love letter to her mother and grandmother, both of whom resettled in the United States 33 years ago. Tender yet proud, Garrett honors her family’s perseverance in preserving their Lao heritage, their strength in building a new American heritage, and the care with which they have raised her—not to mention the care they still have for each other from miles away. The letter is a beautiful reminder of the support to be found in family and of the futures that can grow from a past filled with struggle and overcoming. Read Jazmin's blog here.
Meet our Spring Intern!
Kylie Volavongsa joins SEARAC Communications Team
Hello! My name is Kylie (she/her), and I’m a rising sophomore at Yale University, where I plan on majoring in English or Ethnicity, Race, & Migration (ER&M)—maybe even both. I’m originally from Olathe, KS, where I grew up in a family of Lao refugees. A little more about me: I love making Spotify playlists with Mitski, Loona, and Japanese Breakfast. I also love looking at pictures of critters online, from capybaras to birds to hamsters. I just think they’re neat.

I’m excited to start working as SEARAC’s Communications Intern this spring because I’m always looking for chances to explore my family’s refugee history, along with the individual experiences of the rest of the Southeast Asian community. I think it’s important that we reframe how we see refugees not just as people that need empowering but also as people working to empower ourselves and those around us. To me, there are few better ways to do that than through words and expression.
Laotian American National Alliance seeks Executive Director
Our friends at the Laotian American National Alliance (LANA) are searching for their first-ever Executive Director! The organization is growing from a volunteer working board to an organization with a full-time Executive Director. LANA advocates for policies to meet the needs of the Laotian American community and is on a mission to build power with our multi-ethnic community. The LANA board of directors is looking for an accomplished, mission-focused leader with experience leading a small and growing nonprofit organization. Learn more and apply by June 12th. 
Southeast Asian American women's health research project
A research study at the Ohio State University is seeking Filipino, Cambodian, Lao, or Vietnamese women who have a mother or daughter (or immediate female family member) aged 21 years and older to evaluate a culturally competent intervention delivered by bilingual and bicultural community health workers to increase breast and cervical cancer screenings. Cancer is a leading cause of death for SEAA women. Learn more about the clinical trial here.
Tell SEARAC your health, education, and/or immigration story
Our stories are our strength. Southeast Asian American communities have shared histories and experiences that form the basis for SEARAC’s advocacy work. We center our community members’ stories of accessing healthcare and education, navigating the immigration system, caring for older adults and loved ones, and expressing our joy through food, music, art, and culture. It is through these stories that we make powerful, lasting change.

SEARAC wants to hear from you! If you have a story about your family’s refugee journey, your experiences with our policy priority areas (health, education, and/or immigration), or your engagement with SEARAC at our summits and training programs, fill out this form and we may use your story in our advocacy on Capitol Hill.
SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity. 

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