President Obama’s Legacy for Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities
By Anisha Singh and Sanam Malik | Friday, May 20, 2016
Since 1990, the United States has observed May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month to celebrate and learn about the contributions of the diverse communities of people whose roots extend from the Asian continent and Pacific Islands. Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month replaced the week of recognition that was first observed in 1979. Regular Race and Beyond columnist Sam Fulwood III asked two of his colleagues, Anisha Singh and Sanam Malik, to share their insights on the significance of this month.
President Barack Obama has been the bigotry antidote the Asian American and Pacific Islander, or AAPI, community needed. His leadership on advancing the AAPI community is critical at a time when hateful and intolerant rhetoric is sweeping the nation. Sticking to a message of hope, he ignores fear mongering and instead uses his role as the leader of the free world to lift up voices from communities of color.
The current climate in the United States further damages the already marginalized AAPI population. In today’s post-9/11 America, an entire generation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders don’t remember a time when their identities weren’t under attack from politicians’ hateful speeches and divisionary policies.
But President Obama has gone against this trend, standing with the AAPI community by visiting a mosque and speaking out against negative images and stereotypes. For instance, earlier this month at the 22nd annual Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies award dinner, he said:
Americans are different. We look different. We sound different. We come from different regions. We have different interests, different politics, different economic situations. But in the eyes of the law, we’re supposed to be treated equally. And if one person is being oppressed, if one group feels that justice is being denied, that’s an affront to all of us — it’s an affront to the values on which this nation was founded.