Reimagine Seattle: Monyee Chau

The challenges of the past year have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. They have also given us a rare chance to collectively reimagine our future. With the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project, we invited community members to reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they have been impacted by the events of 2020, and their hopes for the future of our city.

Sharing Juk

by Monyee Chau

illustration of grandmother and toddler sharing juk together in restaurant
illustration of me and my grandmother sharing juk together in our family restaurant, 1998.

Chinatown and Chinese restaurants are where we learn how food and shared meals build and strengthen our communities; how food becomes a universal translation of the labor of love. How I understood that the “I love you”s came in the form of a steamed fish topped with ginger, or home curing pork belly over the heat registers, covered in foil. 

Historically, Chinatowns are where we find solace and healing through being around people who speak your language not only verbally, but also culturally. While Chinese restaurants both carry and burden the complex social/racial issues in a multitude of layers, they ultimately root us in our cultural heritage no matter how far we want to run from our skin. 

During the pandemic, Asian communities were, and are, disproportionately affected by false xenophobic narratives spread by large platforms, including the US president. 2020 and beyond brings us to face with these oppressive narratives -imposed on our people once again- deeply affecting the ability to survive as an immigrant family-run business.  

The future must hold us all in care and consideration of each other, in a basis of mutual respect and kindness. We must understand xenophobic narratives threaten livelihoods and people’s survival. Moving forward means honoring the Indigenous people whose land we stand on, and the generations of history of all our people so that we can coexist with the basis of care towards each other.


Monyee Chau standing outside in Seattle's Chinatown International District neighborhood
Monyee Chau (b. 1996) is a Taiwanese/Cantonese American artist. They received their BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, and explores the ideas of decolonization and ancestral healing through labor in multiple processes of art. They are passionate about redefining the experience of being a second generation immigrant in America, and building community through shared food and storytelling. Learn more at https://www.chinesebornamerican.com.

Submissions for the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project were commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained in each submission do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas, of the City of Seattle.