Community Voices / Acknowledge, learn — and transform, during Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month - Salish Current
May 6, 2021
Community Voices / Acknowledge, learn — and transform, during Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Terri Thayer

The Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco — among the world’s largest lunar new year celebrations  — draws a diverse crowd and participants from multiple cultures.

photo: Amy Nelson © 2016
May 6, 2021
Community Voices / Acknowledge, learn — and transform, during Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Terri Thayer


The essays, analyses and opinions presented as Community Voices express the perspectives of their authors on topics of interest and importance to the community, and are not intended to reflect perspectives on behalf of the Salish Current.

May is another month filled with celebration and recognition. Today I want to share a message for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

America continues to struggle to recognize the contributions of all to the building of this nation. As we work through our various levels of equity tackling the white supremacy characteristics ingrained in our policies, practices and culture, many of us are fighting our own bias responses and working to change.

In order to move through our equity work we have to take the bad with the good. We need to acknowledge it all and work to transform ourselves into a better us. Our Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities face ongoing brutality and violence, discrimination and invisibility. We can create a shift by acknowledging the resilience and voices of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Even in the celebration of these communities during the month of May, I am struggling with how to truly recognize a community so diverse in culture and experiences. I cannot seem to use the acronym applied to the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander community. To me it seems to perpetuate the exclusion, racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans. It continues to disregard the indigeneity of Hawaiian people and fails to recognize the distinction of each of the Pacific Island cultures and people.

Through this month, as we challenge ourselves in the work of equity, begin to ask yourselves some questions to truly appreciate the many cultures celebrated and recognized in May. The beauty of each is so profound and contributes in ways that make us brighter as a community.

Those who are committed to advancing equity continue to study, read and listen. But we know that advancing equity requires action. We must continue to understand that the application of equity requires us to acknowledge and create space for all identities.


Check it out!
A Proclamation on Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Heritage Month, 2021
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Federal Asian Pacific American Council
Stop AAPI Hate

Iep Jaltok: Poems from A Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner
Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Insurrecto by Gina Apostol
The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
From A Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii by Haunani-Kay Trask

Asian American and Pacific Islander
Standing Above the Clouds (2020)
Minding the Gap (2018)
Ulam: Main Dish (2018)
Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
Joy Luck Club (1993)

Listen! Podcasts!
Podcast Lessons that Showcase Asian American and Pacific Islanders
Sounds of the Dragon: Virtuoso Music for Chinese and Western Instruments
Amplifying Voices for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Self Evident: Asian American Stories
Asian Enough

The beauty in appreciating diverse experiences require us to “see” all of those the contribute to our community. Take time to open your hearts and minds to the diverse perspectives that make us complete and whole, honoring the diversity of who we are as a community.

Editor’s note:
A few additional suggestions to read …
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
… and watch:
The Big Sick (2017) 

— Commentary by Terri Thayer

We welcome letters to the editor responding to or amplifying subjects addressed in the Salish Current. If you wish to contribute to Community Voices, please send an email with a subject proposal to Managing Editor Mike Sato ( and he will respond with guidelines.

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