Every Black History Month there's always one contrarian (at least one) who pipes up with some snidism such as: "Why do blacks get a month? Why don't we just give everybody a month?" If by "everybody" the cynics mean people of ethnicities whose heritage is not otherwise sufficiently taught in schools, then, yes. We should give "everybody" a month, and "everybody" pretty much has one.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, devoted to commemorating individuals of Asian and Pacific Island heritage who've contributed greatly to our nation. May was designated as it's the anniversary of both the first Japanese immigrants arriving in the United States -- May 7th, 1843 -- and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10th, 1869 which was built with the considerable labor of a large contingent of Chinese coolies.
And contrarians aside, no matter that it's 2009 and there's a biracial man as president, there's still much we can all learn about others during such designated months. Particularly this month as most other Americans don't distinguish Asian Americans, and look at them as a monolithic group. And as much as 45 percent of the general population says they believe Asian-Americans have more loyalty to their countries of ancestry than to the United States. That number has actually increased from 37 percent in a similar 2001 survey. For the record, about 75 percent of Chinese-Americans surveyed (for example) said they would support the United States in military or economic conflicts. That compares to only about 56 percent of the general population who said they would.
Of course, as you take time to learn about Asian-American history, such patriotism isn't surprising. Just read up on Executive Order 9066, the Nisei Brigade and their rescue of the Lost Battalion to be reminded again that so often in our nation's history it's the very folks who are denied the blessing of liberty who fight and bleed for it the hardest.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month doesn't get nearly the play that Black History Month does. But then neither do Women's History Month (March), Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep 15th to Oct 15th), or American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month (November). But next time a contrarian wants to know if we have to give everybody a month, you can hand them a calendar and get them educated.
For more perspective please visit That Minority Thing.com.