A Reflection on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May 31, 2023
In recognition of AAPI Heritage Month, we are including two reflections shared by those in the Defy community.
Posts originally published on Instagram.
Defy SoCal's Executive Director, Quan Huynh, shares a reflection on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. As an organization, Defy shares Quan's goal of creating a society of inclusion and belonging for people of all races and backgrounds.
"As an Asian American, my journey has often been defined as one of exclusion and otherness because of my race and how others see me. I experienced these feelings growing up in Utah after the Vietnam War, which in turn led to me joining a gang later in life so I could feel like I belonged, although that also led me down a path to prison. Prison was a place where that sense of otherness was reinforced, and while I am now part of many positive and inclusive communities, those feelings of being an outsider can still resurface. In my life and journey now, I strive to find ways to foster a sense of community and inclusion—in my personal and professional spaces—because I know how hurtful the feeling of not belonging can be. To me, AAPI Month is a reminder of how far we still need to go to create a society where everyone feels they can truly belong, regardless of race." (2022)
Here's what Defy graduate Casey says about what the month means to him:
"Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month means so many things to me. It's a time where I/we can honor the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America's history and future success. It is a time of love, tribute, and rejoicing, encouraging both the young and the old to become leaders.
I can still remember the stories my Grandparents told me about the World Wars, especially in the Pacific, how they helped bring freedom to the people of different races, ethnicity, and backgrounds. As U.S. soldiers, they accomplished a great feat, which is our liberty to live freely today. Honor those who have come before, honor those who you have encountered. You never know what change they have contributed to this world!" (2021)