By Ally Mark, AAAFund Media Fellow
Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM)! Despite the dark, uncertain times for our community, and for America broadly, we’re still happy to celebrate the month of May with all of you, our friends and allies. Togetherness, solidarity, and love (from a safe distance!) is more important than ever.
As promised, we’re kicking off APAHM with some bright spots. Our community’s leaders have risen to meet this challenging moment, and we have seen allies of our community flock to support us.
Representative Grace Meng of New York shines as an example of thoughtful, empathetic leadership in Congress. Her efforts to call attention to the xenophobic backlash against the AAPI community, associated with the GOP’s COVID-19-China blame game, rallied widespread support among Democratic lawmakers. In an interview, she cited this as a first: “I think for one of the first times in my congressional career, I feel like my colleagues see our Asian American issues as something they’re concerned about, too,” said Meng.
Another inspirational lawmaker, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, may be in top contention as a Vice Presidential pick for presumptive nominee for President, Vice President Joe Biden. An extremely popular lawmaker who is an Asian American, disabled veteran, and new mother, Sen. Duckworth is simultaneously a safe and groundbreaking choice. Long considered a rising star of the party, she would do the job with grace and integrity. Plus, she was just featured on the Daily Show!
Let’s jump back to COVID-19 for one second, if just to highlight freshman Representative Andy Kim. Rep. Kim was recently selected by Nancy Pelosi to serve on the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus, a move that CAPAC celebrated. He will occupy a seat at this hugely critical table, an influence that AAPIs historically have been denied access to. This access comes at a time more important than ever, considering the economic fallout destroying AAPI small businesses, alarmingly high rates of COVID-19 infections and mortalities of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, and the xenophobia harming our community.
We can’t gloss over the fact that the Republicans’ communications strategy for APAHM centers on pinning the blame for coronavirus on China. As President Trump, scapegoater-in-chief, searches for someone to attack, attempts to blame Chinese Communist Party government officials, and the consequent impacts on Asian Americans of all ethnic backgrounds, escalate with more hate incidents each day.
It’s going to be a long few months, no doubt. But it’s AAPI Heritage Month now, an opportunity to express community solidarity and join hands (virtually!) to reject the hatred spewed against us. We’re joining the Biden campaign’s several AAPI events planned for this month, which they kicked off today with a community call with former Secretary of Labor Chris Lu.
So stay strong, safe, and healthy. You are loved and supported here at the AAAFund community. Let’s keep in touch!