asian pacific heritage month

Did you know that May is Asian Pacific Heritage month? I didn’t– well, that is until a couple of years ago, and even then, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t that interested. Why the interest now? I guess as I’ve grown to appreciate my own cultural roots, it’s prompted me to appreciate and take an interest in the lives of others who share the same ethnicity, race, or heritage. So I did some investigating. What exactly is Asian Pacific Heritage Month? I should know this, right? Since I’m Asian and all. How did it start?

Here goes. Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill, like most commemorative months. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Just a week? The following month, senators Daniel Inouye (bless his soul) and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law. That’s the same year I moved to Orange County, CA. Alas, I diverge. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the 1st Japanese to the U.S. on May 7, 1843 and also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants (http://asianpacificheritage.gov/about.html). I won’t get into the long history of discrimination against Chinese laborers in the U.S. and The Chinese Exclusion Act, etc., but if you’d like to learn more on that, check out this site: http://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/ChineseImmigration.

So, there you have it, which brings me to what I really wanted to say. It would be so awesome to be at the LA Asian Pacific Filmfest right now, which began yesterday and runs through May 12th. It is held every May for eleven days. Sometimes, I truly miss living in California. One of the films shown last night that I’d love to see is “Linsanity” directed by Evan Jackson Leong. I don’t know about you, but I certainly got caught up in the Linsanity craze. Wouldn’t it be something  to meet Lin in person? I fear I’d become like one of those giggly teenage girls who swoons at the sight of a much loved celebrity-that’s how cool it would be to meet him. Anyway…Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese, so I can’t help but feel some pride in the fact that he kinda represents the Taiwanese as a positive role model. Not only that, he seems like a genuinely humble, talented, and intelligent young man. He graduated from Harvard for pete’s sake.

There are many wonderful things about the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival. It’s become a major annual showcase presenting the best of Asian Pacific American and Asian international media in the U.S. The Festival serves as a crucial launching ground for Asian Pacific American cinema through the premiere screenings of important new works as well as the development and nurturing of emerging talents. The festival showcases feature length and short films and offers panels, seminars and other festival events. Pretty cool. Sigh…

If, like me, you are stuck at home and can’t attend the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, enjoy this very small piece of the event, the “Linsanity” movie trailer. And read a great article from The Wall Street Journal about Leong’s “Linsanity” here.

2 thoughts on “asian pacific heritage month

  1. Marijane Post author

    Hey Jean, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing the info, too. Very interesting. You know, we’re screening a documentary next month from a Canadian production company, Picture This Productions (in Montreal), and written by Canadian director, Maureen Marovitch. The name of the film is The Invisible Red Thread. Have you heard of it? Wish you could be here to come to our event! Take care.

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  2. Jean

    Thanks for the background in the U.S. for the heritage month. I have no idea if Canada just chose May as a convenience or what.

    I used to pay more attention to Asian Heritage Month but frankly it was sort of an ongoing personal interest: I have a book case full of books written by Asian-Canadian and Asian-American authors. some of these books are valuable because they are no longer in print.

    Since I lived in Toronto and then later in Vancouver, the whole identity of being Asian-Canadian got became absorbed over time for me that I didn’t sent aside a time of year to recognize certain historical and artistic things. Those 2 cities have huge populations of Asians. See below. One starts to take things for granted that happen…throughout the year Chinese New Year’s, local museum, Moon cake festival, remembrance day (for the Chinese-Canadian veterans in WWII who couldn’t even vote at that time), etc.

    “The largest visible minority group in Vancouver was the Chinese population of 381,500, representing 18.2% of Vancouver’s total population. This was the highest proportion among all census metropolitan areas. In contrast, 9.6% of Toronto’s population were Chinese.

    http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/97-562/p24-eng.cfm
    http://www.toronto.ca/toronto_facts/diversity.htm

    One has to realize that there are over 1 million people in Metro Vancouver and over 2.3 million in Toronto.

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