API Middle Tennessee

API Middle Tennessee

API Middle Tennessee is an Asian and Pacific Islander-serving nonprofit organization based in Nashville. The marginalization of Asian and Pacific Islander communities is often tied to being made invisible. Asian and Pacific Islander discourse at the national level is often focused on coastal regions, which have vastly different contexts from

API Middle Tennessee

API Middle Tennessee is an Asian and Pacific Islander-serving nonprofit organization based in Nashville. The marginalization of Asian and Pacific Islander communities is often tied to being made invisible. Asian and Pacific Islander discourse at the national level is often focused on coastal regions, which have vastly different contexts from the American South. Our mission is to work towards racial justice by building API communities, lifting API voices, and unpacking API identities in Middle Tennessee.

About the Organization:

API Middle Tennessee is an Asian and Pacific Islander-serving nonprofit organization based in Nashville. The marginalization of Asian and Pacific Islander communities is often tied to being made invisible. Asian and Pacific Islander discourse at the national level is often focused on coastal regions, which have vastly different contexts from the American South. Our mission is to work towards racial justice by building API communities, lifting API voices, and unpacking API identities in Middle Tennessee.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

The Issue:

Our community’s marginalization is rooted in being made invisible. While this rings true for Asian and Pacific Islanders across the country, it is more keenly felt in the American South. Asian and Pacific Islanders represent just over 3% of the overall population of Tennessee. Even though there are over 70,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders in the Nashville Metro Statistical Area according to the 2020 Census, our community is often rendered statistically invisible. A prime example of this is with COVID-19 data. Nashville only tracked infection and vaccination rates for “White,” Black,” and “Other.” Similarly, Tennessee’s public school system makes our students invisible when there are not enough students at a school for them to get accounted for. This erasure makes it difficult to strategize how best to advocate for our community and how to hold institutions accountable. On a more interpersonal level, our invisibility often leads to a consumption of our culture, without the recognition of our people. For many Tennesseans, the only time they may regularly interact with an Asian person is when they pick up their take-out. Wanting to address that disconnect and have our humanity seen more fully, API Middle Tennessee is launching the More Than a Menu campaign. This effort will center on food and restaurants, making connections between people, culture, history, and the food they eat.

The Solution:

API Middle Tennessee recognizes that there are not many spaces for our community to just be together, so we host monthly community building events. These events create space for people to connect, while highlighting local API artists and chefs. Our long-term strategic efforts are focused on developing an Asian and Pacific Islander agenda for the Middle Tennessee region. To do this, we are hosting community listening sessions through the rest of the year to identify our most pressing issues and to collectively decide what we want to see from our local institutions. Laying the groundwork for future coalition building, we are actively cultivating partnerships with other API-serving and immigrant-serving groups. To lift our community’s voice, we are creating digital platforms for our narratives to be heard. We also host events, like our Heritage Month Arts Festival, so people can hear from artists and storytellers. We also co-hosted an Asian and Pacific Islander book drive this year where we raised over $15,000 to bring API-authored and illustrated books to our school libraries. Our efforts to be more visible include some messaging we did around the 2020 Census and on-going efforts focused on voter turn-out. The More Than a Menu campaign is a natural evolution of our work. During the height of the pandemic, we started an API-owned restaurant directory knowing that many small business owners in our community were struggling due to quarantine and rising anti-Asian sentiment. This campaign will engage local restaurants, both API and ally-owned, and lift their stories about food and culture. We will also create a digital content hub that features these stories, a restaurant directory, and a calendar of API-related events. We will also focus on having several in-person community building events through the campaign that will include a night market, cooking classes, and tasting/learning events. More Than a Menu is an invitation. It calls us to be together. Eat more. Learn more. Love more.

Get Updates about the Gold Futures Challenge

Join our email list to receive challenge updates!