Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | aapi heritage month
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This just in from Joni Sakaguchi of the Japanese American Resource Center of Colorado: Here's a list of PBS programs being shown for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month through Rocky Mountain PBS. These documentaries appear a bit heavy on Pacific Islander coverage but that's cool. Especially here in Colorado, there's a great deal of interest in Pacific Islander history...

AAPI Heritage Month poster from East Tennessee State UniversityWith Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month about to end, I thought I'd write a bit about the terms we choose to describe our identity. Like other ethnic groups, the labels we use for ourselves seems to be always evolving. Hispanic evolves into Latino; Negro to Black to African American; Native American to American Indian. Asian Americans are sometimes called Asian Pacific Americans, sometimes Asian Pacific islander American, and sometimes Asian American Pacific islander. These labels lead to a crazy bowl of alphabet soup acronyms: AA, APA, APIA, AAPI. I choose to say (and write) "Asian American" most of the time, but say "Asian American Pacific Islander" and use the acronym AAPI for formal references. Although organizations such as APIA Vote and APAs for Progress helped get Asian Americans involved in the political process, President Obama and the White House prefers AAPI, as in "Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month." (Note that the poster shown here, from East Tennessee State University, calls it "Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.") Earlier this month at an AAPI Heritage Month event sponsored by the Colorado Asian Roundtable, our friend emcee Kim Nguyen stumbled on "Asian American Pacific Islander" and I had to snicker. It's a mouthful, all right, especially when you say it over and over into a microphone. And even just saying "AAPI" repeatedly gets to feeling odd, as if the letters lose all meaning upon repetition. As it happens, we may be on the cusp of a change in how we identify ourselves anyway. The Sacramento Bee the other day ran an interesting story that proposes that "Asian American" is fading off like the term "Oriental" before it. "As Sacramento's growing Asian immigrant communities celebrated Sunday's Pacific Rim Street Fest, a growing number note that Asian American isn't a race and said they choose to identify by their ethnicity," the article stated. The excellent (required reading) group blog 8Asians picked up on the SacBee's story and expanded upon its theme of ethnic Balkanization. Asian Americans are increasingly identifying more by their specific culture and ethnicity, and not so much as a larger, racially-linked group. Like a lot of social change, this may be a generational swing.

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 24, 2010 REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT RECEPTION CELEBRATING ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH East Room 3:50 P.M. EDT THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. It is wonderful to see all of you -- some of you back for the second time. Some of you work for me, so you’re here all the time. (Laughter.) I want to, before I start off, acknowledge that we’ve got just some outstanding members of Congress who are always fighting the good fight for the AAPI community. It starts at the top, though, and I want to give a huge welcome and big round of applause for somebody who will go down as one of the greatest Speakers in our history -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) I want to thank Father Vien for his introduction. He’s led Mary Queen of Vietnam Church in Louisiana through some pretty hard days. After Katrina, he served not only as a spiritual advisor but also as a community organizer, making sure his parishioners got the help that they needed. In fact, shortly after returning to New Orleans, when much of the city was dark, he convinced the utility company to divert electricity to the neighborhood around his church. So nobody messes with Father Vien. (Laughter.) He tends to get what he wants.

Kate Agathon is organizing an exhibit in Indiana for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Kate Agathon, a grad school instructor at Purdue University and producer for photographer William L. Snyder (who took the portrait above, which was used originally on in a profile of Kate), is taking on a big art project and she needs your help. She's organizing a show called "ImaginAsian," and inviting anyone who is interested in submitting artwork to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, to get the art by Feb. 28. You don't have to be an "arteest." You just need to fit an image or statement about the Asian American experience into an 8 1/2x11" space, and submit it with a mere $5 donation as an entry fee. The project is a fundraiser for Purdue's Asian American studies department, which is just getting started. The exhibit will be on display at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation in West Lafayette, Indiana, from April 2-May 9. Agathon explains the concept very eloquently: