Marking Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI)
and Standing Firm Against Hate Crimes
May 3, 2021
Every year, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month is celebrated in the U.S. throughout the month of May, marking the contributions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to our culture, history, and progress. LaGuardia’s Asian Heritage Celebration, held every spring to coincide with AAPI Month, would typically feature celebrations of Asian food and culture including dance performances, art shows and more.
The alarming rise in threats and physical attacks against Asian Americans necessitate more somber events this year. Throughout the month of May, events will explore the impact these deplorable acts are having on our communities and examine how we can help put an end to them.
Thank you to the Asian Heritage Celebration Committee, co-chaired by professors Anita Baksh and Sumanth Inukonda, for putting together a meaningful program that could lead to real change and calls to action, and for bringing in representatives of community-based organizations and cultural institutions that empower New York City’s Asian American communities. I encourage each of you to get involved and register today. While two events took place in April—“ Teaching While Asian,” a panel discussion presented with NYC Men Teach, and the Anti-Asian American Violence Town Hall, presented by Project DIVE—events happening in May include:
- Wednesday, May 5: Anti-Asian Violence and Coping with Trauma and Emotional Anxiety, presented by LaGuardia’s Asian Heritage Celebration Committee with the Asian American Federation.
- Thursday, May 6: “Asian American Communities in NYC in the Pandemic Era”, featuring a talk by NYC Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis and panel discussions with LaGuardia faculty and students about the Asian American experience during the Covid-19 pandemic. The conference is presented by the Asian American Federation, Chhaya, and Sapna NYC.
- Friday, May 7: Anti-Racist Pedagogy Teach-In, presented by the Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Anti-Racist Pedagogy Working Group.
- Tuesday, May 11: The Anti-Asian Violence Town Hall will look at how the model minority myth worsens racism and weakens solidarity, and the wide range of intersectional issues faced by the Asian American community and other oppressed groups that have grown more complicated and dangerous during the pandemic. Resources to protect our communities and provide opportunities to build solidarity with the larger LaGuardia community will be shared. Presented by LaGuardia’s Project DIVE (Diversity, Inclusion, & Valuing Equity) and Asian Heritage Committee, and CUNY’s Asian American/ Asian Research Institute.
- Wednesday, May 12: “‘I Am Not A Virus:’ Revisiting The Perpetual Foreigner Stereotype In The Time Of Covid-19” will examine the history and impact of the perpetual foreigner stereotype, with an emphasis on how that stereotype continues to affect people of (or perceived as being of) Chinese heritage in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic. An educator from the Museum of Chinese in America will facilitate.
“I Still Believe in Our City” Posters by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya licensed under CC-BY 4.0.
Ongoing events include Asian American Voices, a collection of essays and visual work created by LaGuardia students to celebrate Asian and Asian American heritages at LaGuardia, led by Professor Anita Baksh, and the LaGuardia Library Archive’s COVID-19 Oral History Project, a collection of images, essays, and video recordings documenting the experience of LaGuardia students, especially those of the Asian descent, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let me again remind you: LaGuardia Community College stands firmly against acts of racially motivated violence and other hate crimes against Asian American community members or any members of our communities.
College resources are available to support our community members who report hate crimes and protect them against retaliation.
Any LaGuardian who has experienced an act of hostility or the threat of one, which may include verbal and/or physical assault, refusal of service, or being coughed or spat upon, is strongly encouraged to report it immediately by calling 911 or, if on campus, contacting Public Safety at (718) 482-5555.
Free, confidential one-on-one counseling is available for students through the Wellness Center. The Center recently introduced a weekly (virtual) Asian-American Wellness Group to help students explore their reactions to racism and violence against Asian-Americans.
We should all be proud that LaGuardia is a place where solutions are sought for some of today’s biggest problems, where acceptance and inclusion is practiced daily, and where self-reflection is valued. One of the biggest gifts we give our students is a place where they feel like they fit in and can be themselves. I can only imagine what our world would be like if this was the norm. Let us continue striving for this.
Please feel free to email me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions.
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LaGuardia Community College , located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the undeserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become.