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Ellen DeGeneres helps Michelle Li launch foundation for #VeryAsian movement

The foundation will amplify Asian American and Pacific Islander voices and spread awareness of violence against AAPIs.

ST. LOUIS — Michelle Li appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Wednesday and received generous support to stop hate against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Michelle is a 5 On Your Side news anchor and Missouri native.

Michelle was invited to appear on The Ellen Show to talk about the good that has come from sharing her story. Michelle received a racist voicemail that called her “very Asian” and asked that she “keep her Korean to herself.”

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Ellen was very supportive of Michelle and her story in the episode that aired Wednesday on KSDK. On the show, they discussed representation of various cultures in news media.

Michelle described adding a line to a TV script about what people eat on New Year’s Day. The script mentioned collard greens and cornbread. Michelle ended the segment by saying, "I ate dumpling soup. That's what a lot of Korean people do."

That comment led to a woman leaving a racist voicemail, which Michelle shared on Instagram. Ellen saw the video and the positive movement that it created and was inspired to help.

Then Ellen delivered a surprise – a generous contribution to Michelle to launch a foundation to spread awareness of AAPI stories, violence against AAPI people and support AAPI journalists.

In collaboration with Tisbest, Ellen presented Michelle a check for $15,000. Tisbest enables people to replace material gifts with philanthropic ones.

The Very Asian Foundation

Professionals in St. Louis are helping Michelle with the new movement, the Very Asian Foundation. It will include partnerships with Stop AAPI Hate and the Asian American Journalists Association.

"Wow! Thank you for turning an ugly phone call into a #VeryAsian movement! I’m truly touched and humbled — and excited to say that I was invited to @theellenshow to talk about the good that continues to come out of it," she wrote on Instagram.

Learn more at Very-Asian.com

What happened

Earlier this month, Michelle shared a video on her Instagram page that showed her listening to a viewer voicemail that criticized her for a comment she made on the air.

During the newscast, Michelle ended a New Year’s Day food segment with the comment about dumplings.

After Michelle shared the video of the voicemail, thousands of people rallied around her and used #VeryAsian on social media sharing their stories, traditions and photos. Many thanked her for sharing her Asian-American tradition on TV.

Michelle was flooded with support and launched a popup shop with t-shirts and hats. The proceeds went to AAJA to support journalists in news media.

Violence and hate against AAPI

A report from Stop AAPI Hate shows that nearly one in five Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have an experience of hate toward them in the past year. Incidents include verbal harassment, and others deliberately avoiding Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

A woman was killed in New York over the weekend in an unprovoked attack. Michelle Alyssa Go, who is of Asian descent, died when she was shoved in front of a commuting train. The attack raised concerns amid a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes around the country.

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