The internet is rallying around a St. Louis news anchor after she received an angry phone call from one of her viewers. Michelle Li was part of a New Years Day broadcast where she reported on what people around the world eat for the holiday.
A Holiday Tradition
Some eat green vegetables for wealth or black-eyed peas for luck. Li shared that she ate dumpling soup, saying, “That’s what a lot of Korean people do.” Li received a lot of positive feedback from viewers who liked seeing someone who shared their own traditions. However, one woman took offense to Li’s comment and called the station where she works, KSDK in St. Louis.
“Hi, this evening your Asian anchor mentioned something about being Asian, and Asian people eat dumplings on New Year’s Day,” the caller said. “And I kind of take offense to that because what if one of your white anchors said, ‘Well white people eat this on New Year’s Day.’ I don’t think it was very appropriate that she said that, and she was being very Asian.”
“She can keep her Korean to herself,” the caller continued. “Alright, sorry. It was annoying. Because, if a white person would say that, they would get fired. So, say something about what white people eat. Alright, thank you.”
Li posted a video of herself listening to the message on social media, and the clip quickly went viral. Everyone from authors to politicians to social media influencers shared their own experiences of holiday traditions — and the racism they have encountered.
Others Share Their Experiences
Hsiao-Ching Chou, a cookbook author, tweeted, “20 years ago, a reader sent the publisher of my newspaper a letter criticizing my article on tea, calling me a fortune cookie, and saying they should’ve hired an American. This sh*t doesn’t stop.”
Michelle Wu, the mayor of Boston, shared that her family had also eaten dumplings to celebrate the New Year. Many others posted their own stories, all with the hashtag #VeryAsian.
In a personal article Li wrote for KSDK, she said, “What she said turned out to be a gift. I have loved seeing so many people share their family pictures and stories on social media. There is more good than bad.”
“We are all just people trying to exist,” Li continued. “If I had the chance to actually speak to this woman, I would love to have a heartfelt conversation with her — maybe we could do it over a bowl of dumplings. In St. Louis, there are a lot of great options.”