Challenge Racism Through Appreciation and Celebration
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM), and while we learn about ways we can celebrate the Asian-American community, we must also educate ourselves on the discrimination that has taken place so that we can actively fight against Anti-Asian hate and racism. EOU proudly celebrates diversity and learning how we can promote peace strengthens that diversity.
Dr. Tabitha Espina is in her first year as Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition in the English/Writing Department here at EOU, and I had the opportunity to chat with her about these topics. She shared some informational insights and the resources that are linked throughout this article.
I asked Espina to tell us a little bit about AAPIHM and what it means to her. “Truthfully,” she replied, “I didn’t even know what Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month was until I moved to the states five years ago from my island home of Guåhan. Back home, every day is AAPI Heritage Month! Now that I find myself away from home, the value and richness of my heritage are even more salient and sustaining. This month is an opportunity for me to celebrate alongside my community and nation the history, resilience, joy and beauty of our culture and values. These days, AAPI Heritage Month is about building solidarity with others in the BIPOC community, to work together toward justice and peace.” You may have seen one of your favorite companies celebrating AAPIHM, including Minecraft, Xbox, Amazon Prime Video and Spotify, as they promote inclusivity and appreciation.
If you are interested in celebrating AAPIHM this year, there are quite a few ways that you can do so. You can learn more about its history on the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website from the Library of Congress, where you can also find a list of virtual performances and events taking place this month. Another way you can take part in AAPIHM is by supporting AAPI-owned businesses. From beauty brands to book shops, there are over 40 businesses to choose from on this site. Espina suggests ordering takeout from local AAPI-owned restaurants as a way to simultaneously celebrate and support!
Another way to celebrate would be to attend the AAPI Heritage Month Panel that Dr. Tabitha Espina will be hosting later this month. “For AAPI Heritage Month and as part of a collaborative project with public radio stations KUOW, KPBX and Northwest Public Broadcasting, Humanities Washington is planning to hold a late-May panel discussion focused on examining modern AAPI identity,” Espina explains. This virtual event would be a great way to educate ourselves and support a member of our EOU community! If you are interested in attending, feel free to email Dr. Espina (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Recently, the U.S. has unfortunately seen a rise in hateful and violent racism against the Asian community. When such tragedies unfold, many wish to help the affected communities but may be unsure of where to begin. I asked Dr. Espina to share some ways that we help support Asian Americans right now. “The first thing we can all do is continue to educate ourselves on the historical injustices facing Asian American communities, the legacies of which we are seeing play out in violent, harmful ways,” she explains. “San Francisco State University has compiled easily navigable resources about the history of Anti-Asian racism, stopping AAPI hate, allyship materials and antiracist and racial equity toolkits.” It is important to understand the history and the impacts of this violence so that it can be fought against.
One of the most important things that we can do when it comes to fighting against racism is to educate ourselves. There are many helpful resources out there, their formats range from books and articles to videos and podcasts. Dr. Espina provided a list of #StopAsianHate Educational Resources that was recently shared by the Association for Asian American Studies, which she is a part of. The document is well organized and filled with great information and resources of all varieties. Additionally, it includes a list of organizations to support and donate to, including Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Mental Health Collective. Remember; knowledge is power!
Our student body and faculty at EOU can work together to continuously celebrate diversity as well as support our peers. The Multicultural Center on our campus is a great place to do just that. Dr. Espina recommends; “Keep checking for events, workshops, and trainings, like the CEAD Conference, that might provide you opportunities to contribute in productive ways to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives here on campus.”
I want to say a huge thank you to Dr. Espina for taking the time to share helpful information and resources with me. Please remember to continue to educate yourselves and to spread kindness!
Additional Information and Resources: