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Friday May 20, 2016

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness

Charisse Trinidad, Asian Journal

Throughout the month of May, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the US celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Representatives Norman Mineta of California and Frank Horton of New York introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week in June of 1977. By 1978, President Carter signed a resolution making it an annual celebration. 

It was then expanded to a month-long commemoration in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The month of May was chosen for two main reasons: The first is the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. A majority of the workers who laid the tracks on the western half of the construction were Chinese immigrants; while the second reason is that May marks the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States. 

In the 1980s, the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California did not have a thriving Asian demographic. Monterey Park was the only city whose Asian household made up one-third of the city’s overall demographic. However, this began changing in the 1990s and continues through to today. Now, cities such as San Gabriel City, San Marino, Rosemead, Arcadia, and Temple City not only have thriving Asian households and businesses, but they are also the majority of residents there. 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the fastest growing racial group in our country, growing over four times as rapidly as the population of the United States.  As one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse groups in America, the AAPI community reminds us that though we all have distinct backgrounds and origins, we are bound in common purpose by our shared hopes and dreams for ourselves and our children.  Our nation’s story would be incomplete without the voices of countless Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders who have called the land we all love home.  This month, we honor the irreplaceable roles they have played in our past, and we recommit to ensuring opportunities exist for generations of AAPIs to come. 

The AAPI community’s long and deeply-rooted legacy in the United States reminds us of both proud and painful chapters of our history.  Confronted with grueling and perilous working conditions, thousands of Chinese laborers on the transcontinental railroad pushed the wheels of progress forward in the West. Japanese-American troops fought for freedom from tyranny abroad in World War II while their families here at home were interned simply on the basis of their origin.  And many South Asian Americans in particular face discrimination, harassment, and senseless violence often in the communities in which they live and work. 

Today, AAPIs lend their rich heritage to enhancing our communities and our culture.  As artists and activists, educators and elected officials, service men and women and business owners, AAPIs help drive our country forward.  Yet despite hard-won achievements, AAPIs continue to face obstacles to realizing their full potential. One in three AAPIs do not speak English fluently, and certain subgroups experience low levels of educational attainment and high levels of unemployment. AAPIs also often experience heightened health risks, and millions of AAPI men, women, and children in the United States live in poverty. 

“Our nation’s story would be incomplete without the voices of countless Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders who have called the land we all love home,” President Barack Obama shares. 

People across the country honor Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with community festivals, government gatherings, and educational activities for students. 

How the US celebrates Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 

Asian Americans research on the geographic locations. Ethnicity goes from across Far East Asia (Korea, Japan, China), India, the Philippines, and it’s subcontinent (Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal), and the Pacific regions (Samoa, Micronesia). 

Another way they celebrate is looking up Asian cities or states to find out how many Asian Pacific Americans reside there. Multi-cultural generations have grown tremendously over hundreds of decades broadening their knowledge about their surroundings and giving insight on it. 

Furthermore, visiting a local Asian places like a city’s Chinatown or Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown when celebrating Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Citizens explore a A lot of places have revolved around America’s modern culture, so discovering hidden spots where Asian traditions are still maintained is quite an interest to Americans.

See original article here.

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