The Tuesday Politics Thread observes Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Hi there. HP here holding it down for our usual Tuesday wonder woman, SheleetaHam. The last couple of days I’ve been sitting with feelings of compassion and admiration for those of Asian American and Pacific Island heritage, as this is the month reserved to pay our respects to these peoples here in America. Although I am proud to hold a few underrepresented identities (as a first gen Ph D, as a Black woman, a Buddhist, etc), I am only adjacent to those who originate from cultures in East and Southeast Asia, from China, from Vietnam, from Japan, from Korea, and from India, Bangladesh, Iran, Yemen, etc. So many of these cultures have been shaped by not only colonization and subjugation, but by resistance to these violent, destructive histories. There is so much persistence, pride, and power in the voices of people from this part of the world who have made their home in America, and I am humbled to try to give space to that here in the PT today, in all respect and deference. 


What I know of this month is, for the sake of brevity, difficult to take in, considering the way in which the grouping of Asians and Pacific Islanders has led to harmful erasures and frustrating monoliths when trying to account for the astonishing diversity suggested by ‘AAPI’, not to mention the regional/spatial variations and factors in negotiating political and cultural purchase in this country. I am thankful for the few but meaningful examples of equitable representation in music and media that continues to give me such joy, the privilege of appreciating communities I was not aware of. We must understand that the socio-political power of representing oneself to others, and the significance of the revolutionary impulse of recovering and telling fraught histories lies not in translating this for others, but in reflecting back to the communities that have been underserved for too long. We all stand to benefit from the opportunities offered and taken by members of the Asian/ Pacific Islander community to support and perpetuate their culture, to stand in tradition and move forward in strength and solidarity. 

And yet we must acknowledge the racist, xenophobic contexts under which so much of this integral work of protecting and supporting communities happens. Like a horrible white noise- racism, xenophobia, the threat of sudden violence, of unthinkable harm, of sorting through legacies of abuse and disenfranchisement lingers. These communities have too much to offer, both to their members, to America, and the world, for us to contemplate their loss. We must support them when and how we can. They are a part of this country, and we should celebrate their history and culture. 


Ok. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month began as 10 days in May in 1977, its first year of recognition. These days were to observe the history and contributions of Asian American communities here in the US. Historically, the first Japanese immigrants came to the United States in May of 1843. In addition, we commemorate the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May of 1869 primarily by Chinese immigrants (it is estimated that between 15 and 20k workers built this railroad). 

The theme of AAPI Heritage Month, chosen by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (a nonprofit that supports the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the federal government),  is ‘Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity’, following from themes promoting leadership that appeared in previous years- last year was ‘Advancing Leaders through Collaboration’. It’s the seat at the table that matters. We know this. We have 2 Asian American women senators: Mazie Hirano (D-Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (D-ILL), and our VPotUS is Kamala Harris, who is of Asian descent. They also know this.

Please do what you can to be an ally, not only by amplifying the voices of these incredible diasporic communities throughout the month, but by shutting the heck up and listening whenever and however possible. I am going to try my best to listen and watch and read without judgment, with compassion in my heart and goodwill in my intent. There is much to learn, and I look forward to the opportunity. If you have resources to share, either to commemorate the celebration of this imperfect (how can one celebrate the diaspora from an entire region of the world in one month!?) but essential American observance, or to educate us on communities that we might not otherwise know about, please do so with a generous spirit. 


Lastly, I posted this song yesterday (and I hope to post more tunes from AAPI artists as I find more things!), but I’m reposting because I really feel inspired by the energy and tone of this song. 

“So let it be known, if you don’t already/

Pinays have always been part, and parcel, if not, imperative and critical to the struggle/

Filipinas are no strangers to wielding our own power/

Of all the privileges that exist in this world, none of which you may be a benefactor of/

There is at least one you bare/

And that is the privilege of having been born a Filipina/

Your DNA contains building blocks made from the mud of over 500 years of resistance and survival/

And when you are ready, sis, we’ll be right here/”

Be good. To yourself and each other.