May is a month of final exams, the start of summer weather (especially if you live in the South), stress, and relaxation all in one. It's also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but I've seen little to no coverage on it this year at all. Not too surprising for a month that was only established 27 years ago, but still pretty disappointing.
Asian Americans make up about 6 percent of the US population, but only represent 1% of all leading roles in Hollywood. Asia is the largest continent in the world, but somehow the West is more important in the grand scheme of things. The Pacific Islands were sought after during the age of imperialism, but now it seems like no one really cares.
I'm not saying there aren't other ethnicities worth celebrating. People of color have done a lot for this country, yet systemic racism persists. There's a feeling of solidarity when we acknowledge each others' achievements rather than ignoring them. We allow ourselves to win for once.
And of course, Asian Americans can definitely hold prejudices against other groups as well. It's very unfortunate that I still hear stories of Asian kids using racial slurs or performing racist acts just because they feel like they've been let off the hook like they're somehow "ethnic" enough to have an excuse. Fun fact- they're not.
But my point is this—let us have our month. A month to celebrate what we've done historically, and what we look to do in the future. A month to appreciate our native cultures and traditions because being American doesn't negate our Asian identities. A month to educate and learn about events, people, or traditions you never knew before.
And after that month ends, continue supporting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We've played a part in the development of American society, and our efforts shouldn't be erased just because we're known as the "model" minority. We should be able to speak our native languages, watch our own shows and movies, see ourselves represented in government, and even combat colorism within our own community.
May might be ending, but that doesn't mean our contributions to this society will anytime soon. We are a minority, but that doesn't mean our lives are minor. And lastly, we might be labeled as Americans, but don't forget that we're Asian (and Pacific Islander!) too.