As the COVID-19 pandemic hits the United States, the cofounders and co-CEOs of Panda Express are confronting economic turmoil and rising xenophobia at the same time.
When we hear about our people being bombarded with racist heckles because they are of Asian descent or simply because their company cars bear the name “Panda Express,” we shake our heads in deep disappointment. The most heartbreaking part is seeing the rising violence against the Asian community. When we are all fighting against the same “invisible enemy” and literally fighting for our lives, why is there a need to place blame on the innocent? What will the hate do? It is an old story to label things that look foreign or seem foreign as dangerously foreign. And it is a destructive mistruth to revive fears about good people as a “yellow peril.”
Our company is unapologetically American Chinese and unapologetically made of people of all colors and backgrounds. The beauty of Panda is that we have a nearly 50-year-long history of introducing Chinese flavors and traditions and bridging cultures. We like to think that we’ve used food to make what may seem foreign more familiar and, ultimately, create an appreciation of cultural difference.
We take very seriously the responsibility to bring comfort to the communities that crave it most right now. As many of our kitchens as possible will stay open so we can feed the healthcare workers, supply drivers, teachers, first responders, and the essential workers who are tirelessly trying to keep America going. And across our U.S. locations across, our associates are fundraising to support the healthcare community through our Panda Cares box program, which encourages guests to give. All funds raised between March 25 and April 18 will go toward sourcing and donating personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers in COVID-19 hotbeds like Washington, California, New York, and New Jersey. We will personally contribute to the fund as well.