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My Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage

We celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month during the month of May. This month is to recognize all the contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. The month of May gives me the opportunity to celebrate my own Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage in a way that I couldn’t before.

Many people look at me and they assume I’m just African American. I’m so much more than that. A huge part of my identity is my Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. My mom’s Filipino, Chinese and Hawaiian. She chose to raise us on those cultures. Everything about these cultures are amazing. I love the food, music and all the little pieces that make up the cultures I grew up on.

This is my mom & our dog, Teddy

Unfortunately, some people don’t believe that I’m Asian or Pacific Islander until they meet my mom because she “looks the part” (at least in their eyes). It was hard for me to be proud of who I was. So many people were telling me that I wasn’t something I knew I was. When I would tell people that I was Hawaiian, Filipino or even just Asian, they’d say “Well, you don’t look Asian” as if that’s how it works.

Although I might not look Asian, I still am and that isn’t for anyone else to decide. I will not allow anyone to take my heritage away from me. Out of my siblings and I, Donovan looks the most Asian. People have mistaken random Asian children in public as my brother (my mom was notorious for this).

Dante, Donovan & I recently

Honestly, I was jealous of my brother because I was tired of people telling me that I was just black. I love every part of who I am but there is more to me than just being African American. I grew up eating Hawaiian and Filipino food, they’re some of my favorite meals to have. When I got older, my mom actually taught me how to make them. Someday, I hope to share those recipes with my own children.

We should share and celebrate everything that each our cultures has to offer. Celebrating this month reminds me that whether I look the part or not, I’m still Asian American and Pacific Islander. I will never allow anyone to tell me who I’m supposed to be. I’m proud of my heritage and I am so thankful that I have so many cultures to pass on.

A photo of me on my birthday in my favorite Hawaiian dress, complete with a lei

How will you be celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year?

Check out NPR’s post about Why Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage Is Celebrated In May!

Read my post My Race Isn’t For You To Decide here on TurningPointCT.org 🙂