President Proclamation: “May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month”

There have been discussions for years about the relevancy of an initiative like “Black History Month” where Black cultural achievements are being celebrated for a month in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada & the United States.  Morgan Freeman famously called the “whole concept ridiculous“”I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” This argument was particularly strong if you consider that not many other cultures have their own month. Well this is changing as Barack Obama has called May “the American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month”. It makes sense coming from the first truly multicultural American president who was raised for part of his life in Hawaii. This initiative comes with a mission: addressing the disparities that still exist in health care, education, and employment and keep the community from getting ahead. How effective will it be, is celebrating one group’s cultural heritage a significant step in addressing many of the social issues that still prevail? Also is it justified to group Asian Americans with Pacific Islanders, shouldn’t they all have their own month?

“We remember a time 170 years ago, when Japanese immigrants first set foot on American shores and opened a path for millions more. We remember 1869, when Chinese workers laid the final ties of the transcontinental railroad after years of backbreaking labor. And we remember Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have made our country bigger and brighter again and again, from Native Hawaiians to the generations of striving immigrants who shaped our history — reaching and sweating and scraping to give their children something more. Their story is the American story, and this month, we honor them all.” (…)

This year, we recognize the 25th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act’s repeal — milestones that helped mend deep wounds of systemic discrimination. And with irrepressible determination and optimism, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have prevailed over adversity and risen to the top of their fields — from medicine to business to the bench. But even now, too many hardworking AAPI families face disparities in health care, education, and employment that keep them from getting ahead.”

 

 

 

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