Asian Pacific American Heritage Month | #RedefineAtoZ

Monday, May 1, 2017 / 6:17 PM

I was 8 or 9 the first time I got called a chink on the playground by some school bully. It was words like that – and "oriental" and "China doll," among others – that made me scared to be proud of being Asian American. I thought the definitions about who I was had already been written by others, and I just needed to fit into what those rules said I could be.

We joke in the community that May is just another month, because we're all still Asian American and Pacific Islanders on June 1. But I want to take this month, while we've got your attention (yes, you, out there) to introduce you to some of the things we are that you might not see the other 334 days of the year.

I want to introduce you to Mei Lum and her incredible story about reclaiming the narrative of Chinatown through Wing On Wo & Co. I want to introduce you to Richard Tran, who was introduced to me through our open nomination call a couple of months ago, and whose work I can't stop thinking about. I want to introduce you to Rajuju Brown, whose music through GRUMBY has been the soundtrack to my workdays the last couple of months.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are artistic and curious; we're historic and inclusive, multicultural and resisting cliches. We are tireless. We are versatile. (We are #notyourmodelminority.)

Take the time to check out "NBC Asian America Presents: A to Z," and also watch and share the video our friends at Jubilee produced to go along with our project.

Every day, we have the opportunity and the challenge to push back on the assumptions of others when they see our faces and our skin before they see us, and I hope you'll think about the ways that you too are writing and rewriting what it means to be Asian American and Pacific Islander in America today.

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