My name is Debra Lyles-Mobley. I am a 65-year-old Black woman who was born in Seattle, and started out on 10th and Jefferson, near the Ruby Chow’s Chinese restaurant (no Black people were welcomed there).
Some of my fondest memories were going to Chinatown with my family, where I never felt unwelcomed. My dad exposed us to a neighborhood that had farmer’s markets before it became popular. The shops had the most peculiar things in big jars, people in various traditional dresses, and smells, sounds, and food to die for! That was Chinatown for me back in the early 1960s. I felt like I had been transported to another world! Any special occasion or family celebration would take place at the Hong Kong, Tai Tung, or Four Seas restaurants. My dad knew Harry (Chan)’s dad, so he was partial to Tai Tung, but after the fire at the Hong Kong restaurant, there was no other choice when we took it to Chinatown for dinner. There were two other Chinese restaurants that were located in the Central District, Chinese Foodway and Chinese Kitchen, but they were just for quickie takeouts and had nothing on the great food in Chinatown, when the older men were cooking in the kitchen.
There were no women working in the restaurants back then. Then we got older, Harry’s dad died, and my dad died, too. Harry took over the restaurant, and my brothers, Kenny, Mark, and I, continued the tradition of celebrating whatever in Chinatown at Tai Tung. Now Harry’s daughters are working in the restaurant.
For years, I’ve always made it a point to pick up the Northwest Asian Weekly newspaper to read while I ate. I have never been disappointed by the content of the paper. Your widespread reporting in both community and abroad, kept me informed and interested. So as I read through the June 6-June 12th issue (VOL 39, NO 23), the LETTER article, “Asian American reader expresses support for Black Lives Matter” by MJ Santiago, and the EDITORIAL, “Journey back to our true selves,” by Ruth Bayang, really touched me….so much so that I felt the need to express my gratitude for your kind words of support, love, and acknowledgements. In the world that we are living in today, unless we come together as a community and realize that we are all people who want the same things in life for ourselves and our families, the world that we will leave to our children, grandchildren, and their children will reflect our failure as human beings. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Stay safe, keep up the great reporting, and thank you again.