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See how former Obama Foundation intern Consuela Hendricks is improving race relations in Chicago’s Chinatown

Consuela Hendricks and Angela Lin see people as an extension of themselves. After meeting as community organizers in Chicago’s Chinatown, they founded People Matter to empower, educate, and care for people in Chinatown and its surrounding neighborhoods of color. “Everything we do starts by asking people what they want to see in their community,” Consuela explained. “Then we build projects based entirely on what we hear.”

Consuela Hendricks and Angela Lin smile to camera with mountain scenery behind them.

Consuela Hendricks and Angela Lin.

In response to community needs, the pair has created a language program that offers English classes for residents who don’t speak English fluently and Cantonese classes for those interested in learning key phrases. The program has proven to be an effective way to build Black and Chinese solidarity. Consuela attributes the program’s success to the simple fact that people want to be able to talk to their neighbors and family. “They want to shovel sidewalks, bring in groceries, or help out if there’s an emergency. All they need is the language to do it.”

Two young people wearing masks knock on doors to speak with neighbors.

People Matter volunteers stop by resident’s homes to check on them, offer services, and encourage them to attend meetings.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, they partnered with the Illinois Department of Public Health to host three testing sites for 800 folks across Chicago’s Chinatown, Pilsen, and Bronzeville neighborhoods.

And they haven’t stopped there.

As the entire country witnesses an alarming 150 percent surge of violence in East Asian and Southeast Asian communities in major cities, especially towards elders, Consuela and Angela have taken action. They recently launched the Breaking Community Bubbles program, where people from Black identities and Asian identities come together to discuss the effects of anti-Black racism and xenophobia in their lives—and work together to create actionable solutions to tackle those issues in their communities.

Consuela Hendricks and Angela Lin look to camera wearing masks.

Consuela and Angela’s work is a model for how to strengthen community relationships and build solidarity across racial and cultural lines. We’re inspired by these young leaders, and we hope you are, too.

To learn more about People Matter, including how to volunteer, visit https://www.peoplematter.one/. To address violence against Asian Americans in your community, you can get started at https://stopaapihate.org/actnow/.

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