By Rizalyn Vargas, APA Legacy
History brings us a series of events-often troublesome but sometimes triumphant. Whichever way it navigates, its stories are left behind from one generation of storytellers to another-ideally, anyway. I remember scanning my high school history textbook only to find a western ethnocentric presence. I kept seeking the tiniest mention of the land my parents left to heed unto their curiosity of what it would be like to acquire more prosperity. Even as a significant and growing portion of the American population, Asian Americans were hugely missing from all four hundred or more textbook pages of my heavy history book.
We managed to go over the details of the Bataan and the perilous efforts of General MacArthur during WWII, but we had a lot to cover so engagement with the subject matter was brisk. We continued on with the course of American history, but there continued to be a discrepancy. The continuous series of printed black words along those pages were rarely dedicated to Asian Americans. As much as I glossed over endless pages, history and its selective tendencies glossed over many stories of my ancestors.
With May as Asian Pacific Heritage Month, an entire month is dedicated to rediscovering the social and political influence of Asian Pacific Americans. By no means does it make up for the strife American politics has had on those who have crossed the riverbanks and unsettling waters of America-we can sadly recall Japanese internment camps and the Chinese Exclusion Act, for example-but it’s a start. It’s also a celebration. One effort to push Asian and Pacific American accomplishments forward is APA Legacy. As a public service campaign, it highlights the achievements of leaders in public service. The idea came about after the passing of two original APA visionaries. E. Samantha Cheng, the program director of APA Legacy, realized there was no recorded history of late Congressman Bob Matsui, who after enduring time at a Japanese internment camp, later became an advocate for APA civil rights. The same stark truth applied to Patsy Mink, who was the first woman, and woman of color, to be elected to the US House of Representatives. A strategic partnership between the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies and the United States Capitol Historical Society gave way to preserving the histories of Asian Pacific American leaders.
History has shown that despite the slew of unjust-often traumatic-events done unto Asian Pacific Americans, certain individuals proved resilient. Their legacies, written in the histories of hope and triumph within communities, are to say the least, a page-turner.
APA Legacy pays homage to the following Asian and Pacific American leaders, who have left their legacies behind in US history: Dalip Sing Saund, Daniel Inouye, Patsy Mink, Norman Mineta, Bobby Jindal, and Judy Chu. You can view the public service campaign at apalegacy.tumblr.com.
All ideas expressed on this blog are the personal views of the author and does not reflect APA Legacy in its entirety.