AAPI Heritage Month with Cafe Cà Phê: Bety Le Shackelford

By Kelcie McKenney
Photos by Travis Young

For Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we teamed up with Catcall magazine to highlight the AAPI team members who make Kansas City’s first Vietnamese coffee shop Cafe Cà Phê possible. Read the intro here, and stick around this week to hear their stories.

What’s your title at Cafe Cà Phê?

Director of Community Outreach

Where is your family’s country of origin? 


What brought you and/or your family to Kansas City?

I moved to KC at the end of 2018 with my then-fiance/now-husband, James, who is originally from here. And my mom moved here last summer when Mia was born! I love that Mia gets to grow up with her Bà Ngoại. It means the world to me that our little mango gets to experience her Vietnamese culture straight from the source. 

When did you start working at Cafe Cà Phê and how did you get connected?

I have been with Cafe Cà Phê since it was just an idea in Jackie’s head! Like I’m talking before she even decided on a name! Jackie and I have known each other for over a decade, so we have been supporting and cheering each other for a very long time.

And because of that, I get to share my culture in a very distinct way with KC, and have the holidays I grew up celebrating, introduced and celebrated here!

Cafe Cà Phê is all about the culture. How do you see your culture fitting in?

It is a Vietnamese Coffeeshop, and I am Vietnamese, so I’d say it fits in fairly nicely 🙂

How has working at Cafe Cà Phê impacted your connection to the Kansas City AAPI community?

It is the only reason I have a connection to my AAPI community here in KC. Jackie did that. Like, she DID. THAT.

Can you share something about your culture that maybe our readers wouldn’t know about?

Vietnamese is a monosyllabic language, meaning words predominantly consist of a single syllable. OH! And a grandma-type kiss in Vietnamese culture isn’t actually a kiss. It’s more of an inhale. Like a simultaneous nuzzle and long sniff. 

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

It is a month that acknowledges and celebrates different Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. However, growing up I don’t really remember it being a thing.

It wasn’t something my school or community celebrated (despite being heavily Asian populated), and I didn’t see it influence what was in the media. So thank YOU for providing this platform!

What are three fun facts about you?

I am a national champion synchronized swimmer. I have a BFA in acting from CalArts. Minesweeper is probably my favorite game ever. 

What’s your Cafe Cà Phê drink order?

Pshh. The hella good latte. Duh duh duh. Not only because it is what it says it is, but also because I’m from the Bay.

What’s your theme song?

I can’t get the theme song from Donkey Hodie out of my head, so that might as well be my theme song rn.

How can we support your community/culture in Kansas City?

I would say by continuing to ask questions and providing opportunities for mutual sharing and learning.

Cafe Cà Phê’s brick and mortar is scheduled to open in mid-June. Learn more about their fundraising here.

Kelcie McKenney (she/her) is a writer, editor, and artist who is passionate about feminism, local activism, queer representation, and strengthening community. You can find Kelcie on Instagram with #kcdaddy, where she talks about her three-legged cat Luna, thrift finds, and ways to overthrow the patriarchy.

Travis Young
 (he/him) is a Kansas City based photographer with roots in photojournalism and visual storytelling. He enjoys using film cameras to help him process, celebrate, and challenge his understanding in topics of race, gender, status, and mental health. When not behind a camera, you can find him creating things in 3D, obsessing over your grandmother’s dope Volvo Wagon from the 80’s, or getting lost in some tedious cleaning activity because he is a relentless Virgo.

Photo studio courtesy of Travis Carroll.

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