Skip to main content

Asian and Pacific Islander American Voices at Yelp

Co-authored by PJ Cazadilla Ortiz, Associate Program Manager | Engagement, Diversity + Belonging


“I think everybody deserves to have their voice. If you have to quiet your voice in order to hold onto one little thing, what are you really holding onto?” — Constance Wu

As COVID-19 continues to adversely affect our economies, communities, and lives, so does the rise in reported hate crimes and xenophobia towards Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (AAPI). From broken store windows to the severe drop in patronage at Chinese restaurants, we want to help recognize and provide a voice for our AAPI employees and business owners.

We share stories like James Yang of The Pirate’s Boil in Smyrna, GA

This decade’s Census ties in well with this month’s campaign for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Communities of color must be counted in order to receive appropriate resources and representation. Since “only 55% of Asian Americans saying they were “extremely” or “very likely” to fill out the Census form”, our efforts also focus on debunking myths to make sure more folks get counted.

We’ve spoken to a few of our AAPI employees on our community team about how their identities have played a role in their jobs and shaped their belief in accurate representation. Their experiences are below:

1. Has your identity played a role in how you do your job?

My identity is my job! Ever since I was a little girl my father, who is a Vietnamese refugee, instilled his love of food in me. Our eating adventures would include eating barbeque from a small stand in the middle of nowhere, slurping oysters on a weathered dock next to the wharf, or eating in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we would order using numbers because we could not pronounce the items on the menu. I feel so lucky that it is my job to be able to give a platform to the small local businesses we love and frequent.

Kimi S. (Yelp DC, Senior Community Director)

2. What has Yelp done to help represent your voice?

Yelp not only celebrates, but encourages diversity in everything that we do! The Community Manager role is such a fluid position — it’s really about what you make it. Whenever I have an idea (no matter how crazy or boisterous), my manager and team listen and help me build upon it. My very first event as a Community Manager was actually at a Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood. I wanted to introduce myself, and a little bit of my culture, to the Yelp Elite Squad – and what a better way to do it than through food?!

Stephanie T. (Yelp Baltimore, Community Manager)

3. What challenges have you encountered (in regards to race and ethnicity) during the spread of coronavirus? 

It’s painful to read about the violent, xenophobic attacks on Asians because of ill-informed notions about coronavirus. I understand that this has been the plight of people of color in the Western world throughout history, and for some people it is easy to blame a group of people for something we don’t have control over. I fear for the safety of my friends and family, and I fear for the regression of what progress Asians have made to be positively represented in mainstream media. 

Morlene C. (Yelp Brooklyn, Community Manager)

4. How can we make sure to celebrate and support our AAPI communities?

First and foremost, it’s important that AAPI individuals honor each other by recognizing our heritage as well as those who came before us to help pave our way. It is also critical that we participate in recognizing the diversity from within the organization and strive to learn more about our culture as well as others’. There has never been a greater time for unity and connection from within our respective communities than ever before.

Jando S. (Yelp Queens, Senior Community Director)

5. Why should AAPI communities make sure they are counted on the Census?

Making sure we are counted on the Census is just another great way to make sure we are being heard. The Census will ensure that AAPI communities receive the resources they so badly need to thrive in this country. 

Emma W (Yelp East Bay, Community Manager) 


You’ve heard it before: representation matters. Whether it’s in a classroom, on TV, in business, or in our government, the impact of being seen and heard ripples throughout our lives. We encourage you to take the steps and make sure you and your community are counted.