OCA Celebrates Asian Pacific Heritage Month
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Posted by: Nick Lee
As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage this month (APAHM), we honor the culture, history, and contributions of our community. How we choose to honor our heritage is as varied as the distinct cultures encompassed by the Asian American and Pacific Islander identity. The richness of our community lies in its diversity. We are all pieces of a puzzle that, once combined, shows us the true splendor of our community.
We stand on the shoulders of Chinese miners who built a railroad that connected the nation, heroic Filipinos who served in America’s armed forces in both World Wars, Native Hawaiians who fought and still fight to preserve their language and culture, and Southeast Asian refugees who defied the odds and escaped war to start again in America. These ancestors paved the way for us to enjoy the quality of life we enjoy today by fighting against atrocious discrimination, like the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese Interment, in the hopes that one day their descendants would not suffer as they had.
However, our journey to equality and justice is not over. As much as this month is about celebrating the past, it is also provides us an opportunity to look toward a better future. Today, our community struggles with many of the issues that have plagued us in the past including immigration and equal access to public and higher education. Today, members of our community live in fear, not being able to live their lives to the fullest because they are afraid of deportation and isolated because of language barriers. Additionally, though many of our children do well in school, others struggle because their families don’t have access to adequate resources or social support systems.
Society can be judged by how they treat the least powerful and most vulnerable. So it falls to those of us that can raise our voices to defend those with the least. When we struggle together, we rise together - stronger and more powerful than alone. It is for that reason that Asian Pacific America is growing as a social, political, and cultural force. To honor our founders and those who came before us, we must carry on their mission of embracing the hopes and aspiration of all Asian Pacific Americans, so we can rise to a brighter day for our community and for our nation.
Michael W. Kwan
OCA National President