In honor of APA heritage month, I offer you a list of 10 things YOU can do to celebrate (seriously, I was an Asian American Studies major!):
1. Make origami cranes
2. eat fortune cookies (strike that)
2. take out your planner and schedule in a different asian cuisine for every day of the month (thai, Burmese, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese Vietnamese, Pilipino, Taiwanese, Singaporean, etc etc.)
3. tell your asian girlfriend/ wife “I love you” in her home language
4. go to yoga/ tae kwon do/ jujitsu/ etc etc
5. wear a cheongsam, hanbok, kimono w/ chopsticks in your hair (or a sari w/ a bindi on your head)
6. get an asian tattoo/ henna
7. Watch Madame Butterfly
8. Tell an APA how your dad/ grandfather/ uncle/ brother fought in the “war”
9. make a newspaper rice paddy hat and wear it on your head
10. watch hentai
May is APA heritage month. like most people of color, I don’t really know what to make of the tokenized month that celebrates the greatest of me (or rather, APAs). May has never been anything special to me except that it meant the end of the school year for the last 6 years of my life. as a former Asian American Studies major you'd think i'd get really excited, go to a bunch of events, and be... well, yellow and proud. in actuality, i'm never quite sure what to make of this month. it seems very anti-climatic.
This year, I’m going to try and remember WHY May is APA heritage month:
-May is the month in which the first Asian arrived on American soil (so I’ve read)
-Chinese exclusion Act, Passed May 6 1882: Chinese were banned from immigrating to the U.S. Originally a 10-year-policy, was extended and made permanent in 1902. It wasn’t until 1943 when China was an important ally of US that the act was appealed.
-On May 3, 1942, General DeWitt issued Civilian Exclusion Order No. 346, ordering all people of Japanese ancestry, whether citizens or non-citizens, to report to assembly centers, where they would live until being moved to permanent "Relocation Centers."
-Chinese American railroad workers finish building the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869. 2/3 of the 4,000 railroad workers were Chinese. Workers risked and lost their lives to chip away granite and plant explosives to blast tunnels.
Okay, so here is my REAL list to celebrate APA heritage month:
1. Listen closely and stop thinking you can’t understand someone speaking w/ an accent
2. Be nice to service workers
3. teach your kids/ yourself/ someone to stop pulling their eyes and saying “ching chong chinaman”
4. write to Michelle Malkinand John Yooand let them know you’re ashamed of them
5. stop thinking in a black/ white paradigm
7. read a book by an APA writer that is not Amy Tan or Maxine Hong Kingston
8. love an APA man
9. stop thinking you can’t be a feminist and an APA activist
10. Read Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama
11. if you’re an APA take care of your mental and physical health. If you’re an APA woman who is not “Asian-skinny” love your body. We don’t all have to be a BCBG size 0, ya know! (Fact: Suicide is the leading cause of death for APA youth (second only to unintentional deaths) according to CDC 2000. In 2003, the American Psychological Association found that APA girls have highest rate of depressive symptoms of all racial groups and the highest suicide rate among women 15-24). Let's take care of ourselves kiddies!