05/04/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/04/2021 16:48
Asian Americans make up around 6% of the US population. In the Seattle area, it's higher, around 14%. But when you break it down further by ethnicity, the numbers get pretty small, pretty fast: For example, for every 100 people that you might meet in the Seattle area, only 4 would be Chinese, 3 would be Korean, 4 would be Japanese, 2 would be Vietnamese, and 1 would be Filipino and the numbers get even smaller from there for other ethnicities.
So growing up Chinese, there weren't going to be a lot of kids with the exact same cultural norms, language and background. It could feel a bit isolating.
But being Asian American helped change that dynamic; Being Asian meant a larger group of people with a shared identity. Being Asian opened up a larger community to connect with. In high school, my closest friends were a mix of Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean-that Asian label gave us common ground, a newfound shared identity that we could all be a part of, and a community that we wouldn't have otherwise had. While you could argue that AAPI is a bit of an artificial label, it helped me and many others like me to make connections during those crucial adolescent years when you're trying to find an identity, form relationships, and make sense of the world around you.
My own personal experience has shown me how powerful labels are-and when used positively, can help bring people together. That's what I celebrate when I think of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
- Dan Ng, Multi-Cultural EIG Member