Dear Fellow Asian Americans and Friends:
As we look forward to welcoming and celebrating the 18th annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the month of May always serves as an important opportunity to reflect our position as a community in America, and as a report card on how successfully we have pursued the American dream promised to all Americans.
One strongly encouraging trend that has emerged is Asian Americans becoming more of a factor in the everyday lives of all Americans — not necessarily because they are Asian American, but rather Americans who happen to be of Asian ancestry, artfully blending their unique ethnic identities with the mainstream American environment. It is a phenomenon that not only builds our confidence as Asian Americans, but also reorganizes the way our countrymen and the world view us. Whether as politicians, entertainers or athletes, Asian Americans have had an incredibly significant impact on all Americans.
Perhaps nowhere is this more pronounced than with our media stars. While many of us felt extremely proud of Yul Kwon and the Cho brothers on Survivor and The Amazing Race, by and large, when most people saw them, they were “ the Asian guy” presence on TV. Their victories on these shows were triumphs for all Asian Americans as they broke traditional stereotypes of who we are.
But the emergence of stars such as Carrie Ann Inaba and Cheryl Burke have broken a new frontier for us. These celebrities from Dancing with the Stars are on the show, not because they are Asian American, but rather because of their ability to judge and dance. They have earned the right to be on TV; the fact they are Asian American merely highlights how far we have come. The show’s widespread success provides a living example of who we are, born here or perhaps immigrants, English-speaking and competing alongside others for individual success.
Parallel to the success of Asian American media celebrities is the emergence of political leaders who happen to be Asian. Case in point: the election of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, an American of Indian ancestry. With a negligible Asian American population in Louisiana, the voters elected Jindal on his beliefs and character. While many Asian Americans in other parts of the country may not share his beliefs, there is no denying he won. Much like the appointment of Norman Mineta and Elaine Chao to cabinet posts by President Bush, a precedent has been set for future presidents to appoint qualified inviduals, who happen to be Asian, to presidential cabinet-level positions.
Similarly, the ascension of U.S. Congressman Mike Honda to vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee is of particular importance. Elected because of his demeanor and record, Honda will, along with a significant number of Democratic superdelegates, play a critical role in determining the outcome of the Democratic Presidential Primary this summer in Denver. It will be an important and dramatic moment for our community.
Perhaps this year has ushered in the beginning of a metamorphosis in identity for our community. These Asian Americans are an example of what we can become — Americans contributing to our country in our unique and culturally honed way.
Once again, we proudly announce the AsianWeek Foundation is presenting the Fourth Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration, with continued outstanding support from Subaru and California Pacific Medical Center.
Enjoy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and please join us at the Asian Heritage Street Celebration on Saturday, May 17, when the fourth annual celebration returns to San Francisco’s famous Japantown.