Celebrating and understanding Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

  • May 25, 2021
  • |Quartz
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Happy family together
In May, we celebrate the achievements and pay tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who add to America’s history and are essential to its future success.

Asian Pacific American heritage is rich with diverse cultures, languages, ethnicities, and traditions. Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, and Guam, are just some countries that contribute to that heritage.

The contributions, innovations, and inventions from Asian Pacific Americans to this country are many. These contributions include the brave service of more than 300,000 living Asian Pacific American veterans in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

Here are some more of the contributions by Asian Pacific

Americans in many fields:

  • Birthright citizenship. In 1898, after a yearlong battle between Wong Kim Ark and the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that children born in America to foreigners were U.S. citizens. Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants.
  • Modern architecture. Chinese American I.M. Pei, widely considered one of the greatest modern architects, designed some of the nation’s most iconic buildings: The John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and many others.
  • Rights for sexual assault survivors. Amanda Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, was raped at Harvard University in 2013. Nguyen founded a nonprofit organization to support sexual assault survivors and wrote the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act. This bill, passed in 2016, grants access to a free forensic medical examination and keeps the rape kit without requesting extensions.
  • Cancer detection. Dr. Tuan Vo-Dinh, a biomedical engineering professor, patented new gene probes that can detect cancer earlier than usual. It includes a method of treating metastatic bladder and breast cancer and another that targets cell proliferation disorders.
  • Web portals, email, and video-sharing.
  • In 1994, Taiwanese American Jerry Yang co-founded the web portal Yahoo! with David Filo.
  • In 1996, Indian American businessman Sabeer Bhatia co-founded Windows Live Hotmail, a webmail service.
  • In 2005, Taiwanese American Steven Chen, Bangladeshi-German American Jawed Karim, and Pennsylvania native Chad Hurley founded the widely popular video-sharing platform YouTube.

Together against hate and discrimination

It is essential to recognize and celebrate how cultures have influenced America as we know it today. After learning about the many past and ongoing contributions from Asian Pacific Americans, I do not understand why they have endured racism throughout history. Since last year this community has been under even more attacks due to the pandemic, ignorance, and unfounded stereotypes.

I stand against any act of hate and violence brought to my community, our community. We are in this together, even more so during this health crisis and our fight for equality. It has always been in our hands to make this world a better place for generations to come.

I invite you to embrace diversity and learn about other cultures and how our differences have been an important part of our society’s progress.    

Resources:

history.com/news/asian-american-inventions-contributions

pbs.org/newshour/nation/the-long-history-of-racism-against-asian-americans-in-the-u-s

By Yuly Osorio, Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator (bilingual) | DE&I Change Team Committee

Visit our DE&I page to read more about our initiatives and resources.

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