• Ricard Torres-MateLuna

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month and we are celebrating!

Today at Viability we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander citizens and community as part of our commitment to inclusion and access. May was initially identified to recognize the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders for 2 reasons.

1. On May 7, 1843 the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States.

2. Twenty-six years later, on May 10, 1869 the “Golden Spike” (or last spike) was driven into the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed using Chinese labor.

On May 1st 2009, May officially was recognized as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

There have been many significant contributions from the AAPI community to American culture in society. Leaders in the science community include Chien-Shiung Wu, also known as the first lady of physics, who won a Noble Peace Prize for her work with nuclear particles. An Wang was pivotal in the progression of Computer Science and holds several patents. There are many famous actors and entertainers of AAPI heritage such as Bruce Lee, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Margaret Chow who have been staples in the entertainment industry. Two famous AAPI athletes that have inspired and succeeded in their respective sports are Naomi Osaka and Kristi Yamaguchi.

The AAPI community has contributed a great deal to our culture and progress. However, they have also faced serious violations of their dignity by means of xenophobia, racism, bias and violence. There is much historical data to support this claim, such as Japanese American citizens being held in internment Camps during World War II. Another sobering fact is that in 2021 hate crimes against the Asian community increased by 124% compared to the previous year. It is important that we acknowledge these difficult realties so that they do not persist and so we continue to strive toward inclusion and equity.

The Theme for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in 2022 is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” The Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) is encouraging local and national governments to prioritize collaboration, development, diversity, transparency, and inclusion though leadership of AAPI people.