By Greg Hugh
The month of May is traditionally a time to celebrate, recognize and pay tribute to the heritage of Asian Pacific American people who have enriched our country’s history and culture.
When you look at the histories of these cultures in America, you learn that many of them faced racism, colonialism, and horrific acts of violence simply because of their cultural identities. It is important that we remember and recognize this.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month began back in 1978 when a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869.
In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Per a 1997 U.S. Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.
Asian and Pacific Islander cultures are tough to encapsulate in a brief message such as this one, firstly because those two terms include such a large and diverse pool of people. The term “Asian American” alone encompasses a broad array of cultural backgrounds as well, including Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese.
When you add Pacific Islander Americans to that list, then we also add many more regions with rich histories and cultures, including Hawaiian, Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian.
While many Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities will be celebrating in more traditional ways, many in the Chinese community will be hosting or writing about anti-Asian racial topics as a result of the origin of the pandemic. In this May issue of China Insight, we have included various points of view regarding immigration and a book review dealing with early Chinese labourers and their experiences.
Also, be sure to participate in the May Forum that will be held on May 7 during which you can hear stories and conversations. of heritage, innovations and engagement from a distinguished panel. See page 4 for details.
While AANHPI communities may be struggling to assimilate into American society, we occasionally battle demons within our own culture, which is now a situation faced within the Hmong community over a dialect controversy. See page 13.
As usual, China Insight would like to extend an invitation to anyone who is passionate about sharing the Chinese culture and viewpoint and who wishes to contribute articles for our consideration. It can be on any topic that has a China connection, whether it be in history, culture, business, travel, arts, food or whatever. We would love to have you join us as a volunteer contributor, so please feel free to contact or me with any ideas you may have.
The staff of China Insight would also like to honor all mothers as they get a special day on May 8, so don’t forget to recognize your mother for all that she does.
Finally, Memorial Day is celebrated on Monday, May 31. This is a day in the U.S. when tribute is paid to the fallen men and women who served in the U.S. armed services. This is a day for all of us to pay homage to the soldiers who died to protect our nation and its people so we can enjoy the freedoms we have.
As always, thank you for reading China Insight and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any suggestions as to how we can better serve the community. We continue to seek your input as to the future course of ChinaInsight. Please ead or contact me at .