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Celebrating Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage

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Statement from The Cedar Crest College Center of Diversity & Inclusion with help from Rosanna Cabatic:

Heritage/history months and other celebrations provide a forum where we can learn as a community about less spoken histories and add a different perspective to the retelling of our past. 

The month of May commemorates Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American Heritage Month, which is an opportunity when we can take time to learn more about their histories, cultures and achievements. The Asian Pacific Islander Desi American terminology is a pan-ethnic classification that intentionally includes South Asians (Desi) as part of the community. A great diversity of identities and ethnicities ARE encompassed under the APIDA umbrella, including East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander. The Heritage Month originated in June 1977 through a congressional bill and has been celebrated in the month of May every year since then. Click here for more information. 

This year as we have seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, racial discrimination, and acts of mass violence targeting Asian communities, it is even more imperative that we recognize and acknowledge the contributions from Asian communities.  

Therefore, Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American Heritage Month this year is a time for reflection, learning, response, and acknowledgment. Here are some prominent Asian Americans and resources for the Pan-Asian community (not an exhaustive list):  

*The Cedar Crest College Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Rosanna Cabatic were instrumental in the curation of resources for this guide.  The text included above and some of the text throughout the guide was previously published in the CDI email sent to students, faculty, and staff on 5/3/2021.

Prominent Asian Americans in Arts and Sciences

Nonexhaustive list created by the Cedar Crest College CDI

Zhào Tíng (Chloe) Zhao – First woman of Asian descent to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Director (Film: Nomadland) 

Youn Yun-Jung - First Koren actress to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Film: Minari) 

MiMi Aung – Burmese American engineer and project manager on the Mars helicopter Ingenuity, which is the first extraterrestrial aircraft 

Dan Santat – Children’s book author and illustrator, Caldecott Medal winner for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend 

Ruby Ibarra – Filipina American scientist and rapper  

Asian Americans in Politics

Nonexhaustive list created by the Cedar Crest College CDI

Kamala Harris - Served in the US Senate of California from 2017 to 2021. First female Indian-American elected to Congress. First female Indian- and African-American elected to Vice President. 

Tammy Duckworth - Serving since 2013. First female Thai-American and first Thailand-born representative elected to Congress (US House of Representatives). Elected as a senator in 2017. 

Mazie Hirono - Served in the US House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. First elected female senator from Hawaii (2013), the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first U.S. senator born in Japan, and the nation's first Buddhist senator. 

Raja Krishnamoorthi - Serving in US House of Representatives since 2017. First Hindu of Indian descent elected to Congress. 

Andrew Yang - Ran for president of the United States in 2020 and for Mayor of NY in 2021

Prominent APIDA Authors

A few favorite Authors

Jhumpa Lahiri--The Namesake and The Interpreter of Maladies are her most famous

Ocean Vuong--Poet & novelist; On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Celeste Ng--Little Fires Everywhere 

Elaine Castillo--America is Not the Heart

Sanjena Sathian--Gold Diggers

Michelle Zauner--Crying in H Mart

Kristiana Kahakauwila--This is Paradise

Mia Alvar--In the Country

Kevin Kwan--Crazy Rich Asians

Lili'uokalani--Hawaii's Story--a history of the island by its former queen

T Kira Madden--Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Keri Hulme--The Bone People

Kiana Davenport--Shark Dialogues

Heidi Heilig--The Girl from Everywhere

Prominent APIDA Celebrities

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