Why I Am Celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Americans This Month

Happy Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month! As someone who is a Japanese immigrant, I am extremely excited to celebrate with my fellow Asian and Pacific Islander American friends and family this month. My goal in the next several weeks is to shed more light on the amazing members of the community and around the world. We live in an extremely heartbreaking time where many peoples’ lives are at stake mentally, emotionally and of course, physically. 

Many people of Asian-decent have lost their lives these past few months because of COVID-19. We should try to be more positive and support the first responders and medical professionals who are risking their lives to do what is best for people around the world. I am extremely disgusted and disappointed by the inconsiderate people who are protesting about being in lockdown and disrespecting these essential workers. 

I want to praise the Asian and Asian-American community for overcoming the xenophobia and racism that has risen tremendously in the past couple of months. The media has shown concern on some of the daily incidents that have occurred, but many people are still unaware that physical and verbal assault against them is a hate crime. NextShark on Instagram is a great resource of news updates on these issues in the Asian and Asian-American community (The CEO of NextShark is actually a UC Irvine alumni!).

On a brighter note, I want to recommend a very relaxed but great way to kick start this month. Many people are practicing the stay-at-home orders and may have spent hours in front of the tv. I want to share with you a show that you may want to watch next. The Netflix coming-of-age show, Never Have I Ever, is honestly one of the best shows I have ever seen. As of the first day of this month, the show made it to #1 around the world on Netflix.  

The show was written by two amazing female screenwriters Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. The story follows an Indian-American teen, Devi, who decides to take control of her life and “rebrands” herself in her sophomore year of high school. She experiences trauma during the previous school year and now finds herself dealing with challenges in her relationship with family, friends, boys and even her therapist. We finally have a show where it is normalized for teens, especially Asian-American teens, to go to therapy!

I do not want to ruin the funny and emotional show to you, but it is truly something special. It gives me a bit of hope for the future of film and tv’s representation of people of color. Also, the female characters in the show have so much depth in their personalities and have such unique personal stories! There are so many characters of Asian descent in the show and I hope this can become a normal concept and not just some trend. I also hope it positively influences the general public, especially at a time when people of Asian-decent have experienced so much pain and loss.

You may have heard this so many times now, but it is truly important for the media to represent the true depiction of people of color and their stories. When the media points fingers and blames someone, it leads to hate. It creates more issues than there already are. There will always be fake news, but when it comes to creative media such as movies or tv shows, the artists have the responsibility to make it it's the truest form. Media is a form of influence and education to the majority of people; I am one of the influenced. A few of certain media’s portrayal of Asians and Asian-Americans are extremely disappointing, but I want to be part of the new generation that is going to change that. I can rant all day about these enormous issues, but more marginalized voices must be heard and I want to help make sure they are heard. 

Please celebrate your friends and family in the Asian and Pacific Islander American community and share with them what makes them special. Remember to be respectful of their cultures as well! Arigato (‘thank you’ in Japanese) for reading!