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Did you know that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? As a proud Asian American, it’s sad for me to say that I didn’t even know this existed until I got older. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the culture, traditions and the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Asian Americans, of all different Asian backgrounds, are a huge part of American history that no one seems to talk about. Like many cultures in the United States, the country wouldn’t be the same without it.
From the start, Asians began flooding into Hawaii for plantation jobs and into California for the Gold Rush in the mid nineteenth century. Most importantly, Asians, mainly the Chinese, were extremely significant to the creation of the Transcontinental Railroad. Spanning roughly 1,776 miles long, the Transcontinental Railroad connected the East and West coast together. This revolutionizing the transportation industry in the US. Many of the Chinese took these dangerous and low paying jobs to seek an escape from poverty in China at the time. As more Chinese immigrated into the US, violence and discrimination intensified; Chinese laborers were sometimes lynched or even massacred. This later led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevent the Chinese from coming to the US and wasn’t lifted until over 60 years later in 1943. Another example of a part of Asian American history that isn’t discussed a lot is the Japanese Internment Camps. Fearing for the United States’ national security during World War II, up to 120,000 Japanese Americans were put into internment camps solely based on their ancestry. In addition, inspired by the African American Civil Rights Movement, the Asian American Civil Rights Movement was put into action between the late 1960s to mid 1970s. Asian American activists fought to have equal rights.
There are many other instances of hardships people of the Asian community that aren’t very well-known because they are simply don’t talk about it in schools. It’s unfortunate because by pushing these part of history away, it allows people to continue to do so in the present and future.
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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates Asian cultures, traditions and history. Whether you are a member of the Asian community or not, the best way to celebrate Asian cultures and traditions is to have an open-mind and to be respectful. When it comes to the history of Asians in the United States, we can’t change what happened and it’s none of our faults that those things happen because we didn’t commit them. However, we should acknowledge and appreciate the what the Asian community has given and learn from the past to make a better future.
Growing up, I was a really active person. I did things like basketball, skiing, gymnastics, band, yearbook club, honor societies, martial arts, etc. But I enjoy traveling and learning about history (I know, you’re probably thinking “Well that’s boring”). Although I can be active, I also just like simply just watching Netflix or something.