AAPI support group is a place for people to belong, New Haven community organizer says
Caroline Tanbee Smith is one of the founders of aapiNHV, an organizing and support association serving New Haven’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
She told Connecticut Public Radio's All Things Considered the idea for the group came from colleague Christine Kim in response to violence against the AAPI community.
“It really was ignited after the tragic Atlanta shootings that happened about two years ago,” Smith said. In that March 2021 incident, a 21-year-old killed eight people in a single day at three different spas or massage parlors.
Smith said aapiNHV was designed to provide “the structure for AAPI folks to be able to build community, share space, for this moment of of tragedy and and grief.”
After two years of operation, Smith said aapiNHV has accomplished a lot.
"Our focus areas have really focused around community building events, events around the New Year, support for small businesses,” Smith said. “If someone moves to New Haven or someone's already in New Haven that identifies as AAPI, we hope that AAPI New Haven can be a place for people to land and meet fellow individuals and and build friendships.”
Smith said she’s lived in New Haven since entering Yale in 2010. She is now running as the Ward 9 representative for the New Haven Board of Alders. Smith hopes others like her can find the type inspiration in her that she’s found in her heroes.
“Being able to see someone like (Boston) Mayor Michelle Wu be in elected office ... be brave and be courageous, that expanded my imagination," Smith said.
Smith comes to her AAPI identification by way of her mother, who is from Korea. She’s a believer in the concept of AAPI Heritage Month, which ends on Wednesday, May 31.
“I think that it can contribute to an individual who identifies as API,” Smith said, “to build a sense of self-belief and pride in their identity, which I think is a really special thing.”
Learn more about aapiNHV.