“Our Stories Are Your Stories” (#OSAYS), A Powerful Local Campaign for AAPI History Month

Photo credit: OSAYS

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, “Our Stories Are Your Stories” (#OSAYS) launched a media campaign as a platform for leading AAPI voices in the greater Seattle area to help uplift and empower the community. 

There is a very diverse range of AAPI community members—descending from more than 50 countries and representing five generations to recent immigrants. The campaign also invites community members to submit their own stories to bring people closer together in our shared humanity.

A sampling of local leaders featured in this video series includes Doug Baldwin, Gary Locke, Lana Condor, Dr. Vin Gupta, and many more. In one of the videos, Baldwin, a former Seahawks football player, shares fond memories of the aromas and flavors of the food his Filipina grandmother made. Other videos will take people on similar personal journeys. 

The campaign is pioneered by a group of AAPI women who now lead the project as its volunteer executive team including Mari Horita, Seattle Kraken; Katherine Cheng, Expedia Group; Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Seattle Sounders FC; Mimi Gan, Mi2Media; and Betti Fujikado, Copacino Fujikado. Have a look at this dynamic video (also embedded below) to get an idea for yourself. 

The campaign has its roots in sharing the AAPI community’s journey and their lived experiences—a great start to actively addressing needs and creating actionable resources. Keeping honest, open conversation in mind, we invited Mari Horita, Betti Fujikado, and Mimi Gan to speak about their personal journey, their part in launching this campaign, and what it means for them to be a part of the AAPI community.

Mari Horita, VP @ Seattle Kraken

My journey as a third generation Japanese American is defined largely by the life experiences of my mother and my daughter. My 91-year-old mother lost three years of her childhood and took on a lifetime of pain as an incarceree at Minidoka during WWII. She spent the ensuing decades navigating a confusing and sometimes hurtful America with stoicism, resilience, and grace. But while she may have forgiven, she has never forgotten, and the sadness endured. And then my bright-eyed, beautiful, and loving daughter entered the world 16 years ago and my mother’s world, like mine, changed. In my daughter’s smile and laughter, my mother found a second chance to experience a happy youth. And through my daughter’s eyes, she saw both a bright future and a proud past and heritage.  

By shining a light on different AAPI faces, voices, and stories, the OSAYS campaign aspires to uplift and connect all people. We also hope that the widespread support for this initiative will empower our AAPI community to see a bright future, as well as embrace a proud past and heritage.

Betti Fujikado, Co-founder @Copacino Fujikado

The news was building my anger and feeling of helplessness—the violence targeting Asian Americans, the anti-AAPI rhetoric, and the general lack of understanding about our expansive and complex AAPI community. I wanted to channel these emotions into something productive. I’m fortunate to have these four AAPI women in my life, women I admire for their leadership and talents: Mari Horita (Seattle Kraken), Maya Mendoza-Exstrom (Seattle Sounders FC), Katherine Cheng (Expedia), and Mimi Gan (Mi2Media).

We decided to create a campaign to help replace animosity with humanity and encourage dialogue instead of this divisiveness. AAPI Heritage Month was in five weeks and we decided to seize that moment. The Our Stories Are Your Stories campaign was developed to uplift our AAPI community, encourage awareness and dialogue with our greater non-AAPI communities and ensure these personal stories would survive beyond us in the oral history archives of The Wing Luke Museum. My goal is, 50 years from now, a researcher will better understand this moment in time through these first-hand video stories. I’m proud and fortunate to have been a part of five AAPI women in five weeks telling 15 stories with the help of about 50 AAPI and ally experts giving us so generously of their skills and expertise.

Being a part of the AAPI community gives me a place of belonging. It supports me as a Japanese American. It provides a feeling of place for my Chinese American husband and me along with our daughters. We come from over 50 different countries with different experiences, cultures, and histories, but I will still nod at another AAPI on the street or go up to another AAPI at a business meeting with confidence we have a connection.

At 66 years old, I’m in the final act of my career. I want to take the skills I’ve developed over the past 40+ years to help make a difference in my communities. Since “retiring” (quotes intentional) from my 23-year-old advertising agency, Copacino Fujikado, in 2020, I’ve developed three projects. First was Success Cohorts which I co-founded to provide coaching and community building for individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups in the first three years of their professional careers. Our first program is for first-generation college graduates, www.firstgencohorts.com. Second, along with Mimi Gan, was Seattle Unite’s Democracy Cup, a grassroots campaign partnering with all six Seattle professional sports teams to encourage communities of color to complete the Census and vote. The third is this labor of love: Our Stories Are Your Stories  This final act of my career fills my heart.

Mimi Gan, Founder/Creative Director @Mi2 Media

I couldn’t be more proud to call this core team of amazing and supportive AAPI women my friends. Launching the OSAYS campaign has been one of the most deeply personal and gratifying projects I’ve ever worked on. As the lead video director/writer, I wanted to make sure to get it right — that the stories would be as diverse and inspirational as our AAPI community and viewed as uniquely American stories. Our goal is to replace hate with empathy through the power of storytelling. It was also important to pull together a production team of mostly AAPI creatives to tell our story.

For me, being an AAPI woman and storyteller are tightly intertwined. I am Chinese American — both my parents were born here but spent their adolescence in China. Growing up in an all-white suburban neighborhood in the Bay Area, I often felt like I was straddling two worlds. My parents’ closest friends were Chinese American and we spent holidays and weekends together. Yet, my best friends in high school were white, pretty, and popular. There were times when I wanted to be like them. That all changed in college when I got involved in AAPI-focused activities and co-edited an anthology of Asian Americans at Stanford. I’ve carried that sense of pride and responsibility ever since, having served as president of the Seattle Chapter of AAJA Asian American Journalists Association and as a current and long-time trustee of Wing Luke Museum.

Today my work (Mi2 Media) centers on directing/writing short-form social impact documentaries. I’m currently working on a documentary about Seattle’s Chinese American WW2 veterans inspired by my own father’s service. I also volunteer with Common Power to mobilize and register voters across the country. In 2020, I cofounded Seattle Unite, a coalition of 25 social and racial justice organizations that encourages its members to take action. I was previously a reporter at KING 5 Evening Magazine for 16 years.