Refugees gave us sriracha, and we should always remember that.
People who flee to the United States and other countries around the world to escape war, persecution and natural disaster contribute so much, and that’s what 26-year-old photographer Kien Quan and fellow artist Jillian Young are reminding us with their “Made by Refugee” campaign.
Stickers reading “MADE BY REFUGEE” are popping up on everyday products in New York City grocery stores, bookstores and bodegas to prove this point.
The orange and black design is a play off the flag for the Refugee Nation, the name given to the very first refugee Olympic team in Rio last summer.
“We decided to use that imagery to create additional meaning to this newly minted symbol,” Quan told HuffPost.
One item spotted sporting the stickers are sriracha bottles. David Tran ― the man who practically made ketchup obsolete with his distinctive sauce ― escaped communist Vietnam and came to the U.S. as a refugee.
He’s just one of many.
No one would spontaneously burst out singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” if Freddie Mercury’s family hadn’t fled Zanzibar for the United Kingdom in the 1960’s.
Without Victor Hugo, who fled France and headed to Brussels because of his political beliefs, theater would have lost “Les Miserables” and Disney would be without its charming hunchback.
“I thought that it was a great project to remind people around the world how refugees contribute to society,” Quan told PIX11 News.
The project was inspired by President Donald Trump’s January executive order that barred immigrants from eight Muslim-majority nations and halted the U.S. refugee resettlement program. It was ultimately blocked by a federal appeals court. Trump signed a second, watered-down version in March, but that, too, was blocked in federal court.
Quan has a personal connection with the ban, as many of his own family members were refugees during the Vietnam War. The project is a way to pay homage to that history.
“I just felt like something had to be said — at the very minimum, let me see if I can change one person’s perspective or get them to think about the subject a little differently,” Quan told DNAinfo.
Anyone can join Made by Refugee by downloading the sticker template from the Made by Refugee Facebook page.
This story has been updated with comments from Kien Quan.
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