Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | cherry blossom
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[caption id="attachment_4327" align="alignright" width="515" caption="Cherry blossoms at the Japanese Imperial Palace moat in Tokyo (photo Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons)"][/caption] When I was a kid in Japan, my family would make the requisite trek out every spring to see the cherry trees, or sakura, blooming at places like the Imperial Palace (above) or Ueno Park, which is better known the rest...

A Japanese American festival in Seabrook, NJ where the community performs a traditional Japanese obon dance It's May. Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I wonder, though, if this celebration of our heritage is an idea whose time has passed. I'm glad that we have our month every year, but I'm worried that we're emphasizing the wrong things year after year. Erin and I are starting to feel that APA Heritage Month may be counter-productive. The Pacific Citizen published a well-written piece last week, "Time to Rethink Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?" and I agree, it's time to re-think the tradition even though it's only 31 years old. Last year, I wrote about how a 10-year-old Denver event, an Asian community celebration held in downtown Denver every May, needed to evolve from just Asians performing for other Asians. It was a useful educational display back when our many communities stayed cloistered and Japanese didn't know much about Vietnamese, and Vietnamese didn't know much about Filipinos, and Filipinos didn't know much about Cambodians and Cambodians didn't know much about Koreans... you get the idea. But today, with especially young people mixing a lot more outside their own communities, it seems like a closed celebration, like preaching to the choir about the richness of our heritage. If you attend the annual event, you've seen many of the same performers year after year. Even if the audience was expanded outside the Asian community, though, to the wider non-Asian population, I wonder if that would be good or bad for Asian Americans.