Reporter Michelle Li Pens Kids' Guide To Korean Food After Racist Message

Whether it is a culture's signature cuisine or a favorite family dish that makes us feel at home, food defines us more than we may realize. Unfortunately, there will always be people who condemn the differences that make us unique rather than celebrating them. NBC News reports that St. Louis-based news anchor Michelle Li experienced this bigotry firsthand when she received a racist voice message after mentioning on air that she enjoyed eating dumplings on New Year's Day. Instead of staying quiet or responding with equal intolerance, Li took the high road and created a children's book about Korean food to educate instead.

According to the BBC, the vitriolic rhetoric that some xenophobic people spewed during the height of the pandemic caused an alarming rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Despite the violent and hateful actions of weak-minded people easily intimidated by anything unfamiliar to them, Asian activists like James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Grace Young came together to support and protect their community. Michelle Li is in good company and has joined fellow advocates to counter racism.

Li took to Twitter and posted the hateful voicemail she received where a viewer said Li was acting "very Asian" when she mentioned eating dumplings to celebrate the new year. Li wrote, "I'd love to say something back," and the video and #veryasian went viral. What Li did instead of returning the hate was classier, smarter, and more effective than that racist caller could ever hope to be.

Michelle Li creates a guide to Korean food for her son and the community

The racist voice message calling news anchor Michelle Li "very Asian" for simply mentioning she ate dumplings on New Year's Day was likely meant to intimidate her and keep her from feeling pride about her Asian heritage, but NBC News notes that it instead inspired her to elevate awareness about Korean cuisine. She appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and received a $15,000 check that she used to launch the Very Asian Foundation, the first step in her journey to support the Asian American community.

When Li went to speak to her son about the racism she experienced, she realized she lacked the resources to have an effective conversation with a child. So she penned "A Very Asian Guide to Korean Food" to teach him and others about the wonders of Korean culture and cuisine. Her book covers traditional and modern Korean dishes like mandu (Korean dumplings) and kimchi, complete with facts about the culture and vivid illustrations.

Li joins other community activists like Subtle Asian Baking, who are fighting against racism by educating others through food. Li's book encourages readers of every age to appreciate the cultural differences that make our global community vibrant while inspiring immense pride in the Asian community and combating hate one delicious dish at a time.

"A Very Asian Guide to Korean Food" is available now.