As part of my annual celebration, I've put up a display on the bulletin board outside my classroom. On it is a definition of the terms 'Asian-American' and 'Pacific Islander' along with some statistics, from the US Census Bureau, on the breakdown of various Asian groups living in the United States. I've also included three our four celebrities in music, entertainment (film and television), sports and literature who are Asian-American and/or Pacific Islander.
Asians and Pacific Islanders are part of the American diaspora. We have been for decades but, recently, it seems that more of us are getting recognised as representatives and role models within and for our ethnic communities as we are for our accomplishments. More attention has been brought on us in all areas. Take politics, for instance. Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana-born Indian-American Republican governor was talked about as being John McCain's vice-president in the 2008 elections. President Obama even, with his upbringing in Hawaii and Indonesia, has brought attention to Pacific Island and Asian culture.
Here are some examples:
In music, there's Bruno Mars. He was raised in Hawaii and his mother his Filipina. Ne-Yo, the Hip Hop, R&B and Rap artist is one fourth Chinese. Looking at sports, of course, there's Tiger Woods (Thai and Chinese). Hines Ward, Super Bowl winner, has a Korean mother and he was born in Seoul. And, dare we talk about Asian-Americans in sports and not mention Jeremy Lin, the California-born Chinese point guard of the New York Knicks. In entertainment, there's Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls), who is part-Filipina and don't forget Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson who is Polynesian. Closer to home, there's Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar, House, The Namesake) who's Indian and was born in Montclair.
The next time you watch a movie or listen to a song or read a book or watch your favourite team win a championship, be mindful that there might be some kind of Asian or Pacific Islander involvement. What wasn't news to the Asian-American community but, apparently seemed surprising to mainstream media, was that Asians can play basketball. Jeremy Lin opened mainstream America's eyes to that; although that's something Wat Misaka already did in 1947 and American seemed to forget about.
So, open your minds and your hearts, and join us in celebrating the contributions that Asians and Pacific Islanders have made to our country. Hug an API and unleash your inner Asian!