Food And Drinks

The Orlando store launches a fundraiser to fight American hatred in Asia

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ORLANDO, Fla. – What started as a business in a garage with two University of Central Florida students has grown into a thriving small business in Orlando. Now the men behind Impress Ink are working to make a statement on how they do it best: with t-shirts.

Impress Ink sells shirts labeled “Not Your Model Minority” to combat anti-Asian rhetoric and violence. All proceeds go to the non-profit group Stop AAPI Hate. The group tracks cases of hatred against those from the Asia-American Pacific and provides resources for those who have been attacked.

[CHECK IT OUT: Stop AAPI Hate 2020-2021 National Report]

“We’d like a message to just answer more questions,” said Michael Cho, managing partner of Impress Ink.

The campaign was launched in collaboration with Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, a national Asian-American cultural organization. The Brotherhood, commonly known as PDPsi, recently announced Stop AAPI Hate as their national philanthropy, according to a press release. Ricky Ly is a former national executive who heads the campaign out of central Florida.

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“Ricky and I are actually brothers from Pi Delta Psi, the first brotherhood of Asian interest at UCF,” Cho said. “The reason I started Impress Ink was because I was actually influenced by other brothers at the University of Florida who started something similar.”

Cho said Ly approached him with the idea and agreed to the campaign in light of the recent attacks against Asian Americans.

[MORE COVERAGE | Hate crime: Suspect arrested in attack on Asian American woman in New York City | As virus-era attacks on Asians rise, past victims look back]

“We’ve always been friends and we’re working to bring the effects together,” said Ly.

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Ly stated that the theme of the campaign is one that will appeal to the entire Asian-American community.

“Model minority is a stereotype that Asian Americans do well, don’t need any help, or are really good in school or like the good minority, and we’re just trying to break that stereotype that people have,” Ly said.

The civil engineer put it, while the stereotypes may sound like compliments or seem harmless, they typify Asian Americans and set expectations while putting them in a box.

[AAPI Heritage Month: Here’s why officials say Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in Central Florida | Chef building a collective in Orlando’s food scene]

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“And it kind of turns you against other minorities,” he said. “In solidarity efforts with other groups, we want to make sure that stereotypes are wrong, and we have to fight that in our lives.”

Cho said it is now appropriate to raise awareness of the minority model stereotype and its impact on the community.

“It essentially shifts a group that we have privileged, we benefit from everything, there are no problems in our group so no one should mind,” said Cho. “Which is kind of like a carelessness, in a way, not to care because they seem fine.”

That feeling helped spark the campaign launched in April. The fundraiser has raised more than $ 1,000 to date.

“(It’s) hopefully to educate people who are curious,” said Cho.

Orlando-based Impress Ink prints shirts for the Not Your Model Minority fundraiser to help Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization. (Image credit: Impress Ink) (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.)

Cho and Ly stated that because they have the resources and the passion, it is easy to step in.

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“We have our degrees and we have our careers, but we still want to give something back right now,” Ly said.

The two said the campaign is their way of helping a community hurt during the coronavirus pandemic. Ly said the coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated hateful rhetoric against Asian Americans, using words like “kung flu” and “china virus” in both verbal and physical attacks. He also referred to the violent gunfights in Atlanta that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.

“It kind of inspired us to put this together to take a stand because we want to be leaders in our community and also shed light on the darkness,” said Ly. “And if not us, who will?”

Cho repeated similar statements, adding that Impress Ink has always served the Orlando and central Florida community. He said it was part of their business model.

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“It’s based on the roots of this business,” he said. “We’re trying to be in the community out there, not just as an instance.”

[Visit Impress Ink]

Impress Ink has partnered with a local artist to promote the Black Lives Matter movement and to donate all shirts. During the pandemic, when restaurants were badly hit, Impress Ink started the Orlando Merch Store, which used proceeds to sell clothing to local restaurants. Cho said they were also able to donate nearly $ 9,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank.

“When it comes to the business, but also the sense of community, whenever there are challenges that are not just related to a specific group of people, we try to lead something, take the initiative,” he said.

As an Asian-American business owner, Cho said he now has the opportunity to help his community and the resources to do so.

“We sold shirts all over the US, we ship them everywhere,” he said. “(When) there is more demand, the shirts will go on.”

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People can support the campaign by buying a shirt through this link. The campaign is set to end on May 9th for the time being.

Orlando-based Asian-American company Impress Ink sells t-shirts to fight anti-Asian racism and to help the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate. (Photo courtesy Impress Ink) (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.)

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.

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Janet Smith