At the 2021 Diocesan Convention, Resolution 21-04 Becoming a Beloved Community by combatting anti-Asian/Pacific Islander American violence, bias and racism was adopted. As part of that resolution, the diocese agreed to lift up the stories of Asians, protect Asians from racist persecution, and nurture understanding of Asian peoples and cultures through prayer and liturgy, among other ways.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States.
The EDSD Racial Justice Task Force will honor & celebrate AAPI Heritage Month through facilitated discussion and clip viewing of the 5-part PBS series: Asian Americans. Told through individual lives and personal histories, the series explores the impact of Asian Americans on the US’s past, present and future. Meetings are every Tuesday in May, 6:30 – 7:45 p.m. via Zoom. To register go here.
There has been systemic racism against Asians and Pacific Islanders for centuries. In the 1850s as the number of Chinese laborers increased, so did the strength of anti-Chinese sentiment culminate with The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The only immigration policy excluding immigrants by race.1 During WWII approximately 127,000 Japanese Americans were held in internment camps. Many of them were American citizens and lost their property and livelihood once released.
The story of how Hawai’i became a state is still a bitter pill for many Hawaiians. When Queen Liliuokalani moved to establish a stronger monarchy, Americans under the leadership of Samuel Dole deposed her in 1893. The administration of President Harrison encouraged the takeover and dispatched sailors from the USS Boston to the islands to surround the royal palace.2 Today, even though the poverty rates in Hawai’i are low, native Hawaiians still have the highest rate of poverty than other ethnic groups.
In the first month after the 9/11 attacks, the Sikh Coalition documented over 300 cases of violence and discrimination against Sikh Americans. Even today Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are still facing mounting dangerous racism.
Research spearheaded by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum revealed that 74% of AAPI women reported having personally experienced racism or discrimination in the last 12 months, roughly the time since the Atlanta-area spa shootings, in which eight people, most of them Asian women, were murdered, the report pointed out.3
According to an article by Arie Perliger, Director of Security Studies and Professor of Criminology and Justice Studies, UMass Lowell:
The Asian American-Pacific Islander Equity Alliance, a nonprofit based in California, has collected reports of 10,370 “hate incidents” from March 2020 through September 2021. The categories of those incidents include verbal harassment, refusal of service at a business, and online abuse, as well as assaults and property damage. After three decades in which there was an average of 8.1 anti-Asian attacks a year in the U.S., 2020 and 2021 saw an average of 81.5 anti-Asian attacks a year. Both attacks on people and attacks on property rose considerably.4
Being AAPI in the United States is a balancing act according to Mae Chao, a parishioner at Holy Cross, Carlsbad:
I was speaking with another Chinese woman recently about how we self-identify. I explained that I do not say I am an American, but that I am Chinese American or Asian American. Having lived in China, I know I am not Chinese or even considered an Overseas Chinese since I was born in the USA. Mainstream America does not consider me an American. I am asked if I am Japanese or Chinese, or where I am from (New York is not an acceptable answer). Rather, I am a blend of Chinese and American cultures which makes me a proud Asian American. This challenge about identifying as an American in a small way enables me to relate to the Japanese Americans who, having done nothing but be of Japanese descent, were dislocated to concentration camps and then required to sign Loyalty Oaths to the U.S.A.
Join our EDSD Racial Justice Task Force as we lift up AAPI stories and nurture a better understanding every Tuesday in May, 6:30 – 7:45 p.m. via Zoom. Register here.
1 U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration
2 U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). Annexation of Hawaii, 1898. U.S. Department of State Archives. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from https://20012009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/gp/17661.html
3Yam, K. (2022, March 22). 74% of Asian American, Pacific Islander women experienced racism in past year, report says. Asian America. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/74-asian-american-women-experienced-racism-year-new-report-says-rcna18626
4 Perliger, A. (2022, February 17). Anti-Asian violence spiked in the US during the pandemic, especially in blue-state cities. theconversation.com. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from https://theconversation.com/anti-asian-violence-spiked-in-the-us-during-the-pandemic-especially-in-blue-state-cities-176501
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One reply to “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month”
Thank you for the bibliography attached to this summation of series one film clips and discussions.
As per the recommendations of my discussion group regarding the need to tell the Asian-American stories, please refer to the April 2022 issue of Vanity Fair. On page 56, ALL THAT BREATHE by May Jeong tells the stories of the survivors of the Atlanta shootings one year after that spa massacre.