Celebrating in Community
Reflecting on communal events for Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Desi American Heritage Month
Hello there! To all our new readers, thanks for joining us for another week; to readers joining us for the first time, thank you so much for being here! Heritage month has kicked off with a bang and I’m riding multiple waves of emotions heading into week two. Let’s get into it.
After going to Vegas for Asian Hustle Network’s Uplifted Conference last weekend, I was invited and the privilege to attend The Asian American Foundation (TAAF)’s Heritage Hero summit in New York City. I had a short reprieve at home before heading out Thursday and quickly found myself meeting up with friends and community members almost immediately (after my 1.5 hour Lyft to my hotel 😅😭).
The summit itself was wild. The event space was gorgeous and gigantic, but also comfortable for the many, many folks who came through over the course of Friday and Saturday. There were panels and interviews and conversations we could attend. There were happy hours and networking opportunities at every turn. It was a lot of fun.
It was also a lot.
For day two, I was only there for the first half of the day. I left for an adoptee-only event around 2 pm, walking the four miles from event to event in one-too-many layers of top cloths, a pool of sweat, and the vibrancy of the city.
It was during this stroll that I found myself reflecting on community, specifically pondering this question: who is missing when we build?
As someone who advocates for the continual building and facilitating of community for all historically marginalized groups, these past two events had me thinking more and more about, not just who gets to attend these events, but who we are listening to, learning from, and building support for.
I understand the intention behind conferences and events like these. They bring together specific groups of people and can be great for raising funds, developing partnerships, and building relationships, specifically amongst folks in our communities that sit in positions of privilege and power, who represent us at the highest levels of executive leadership and government. They also act as an opportunity to celebrate and recognize our own.
We do need those things to happen. They’re important for us to see and experience because we very rarely have gotten the chance to do so.
We should be using events like this to truly go further.
What I mean by ‘go further’ is we leave these events with everything I mentioned before AND with action items meant to support, uplift, and amplify our most marginalized voices. For example, I couldn’t help but notice just how prominent mentions of Joy Ride were; I knew that was going to happen.
What I also noticed, though, was the distinct lack of addressing the issues that Asian adoptees have been bringing up ever since this trailer dropped. Mainly: why is there no adoptee representation throughout the production process or in the cast?
I didn’t hear this brought up by anyone who wasn’t an adoptee. And it was spoken about in hushed tones by myself and the other adoptees I spoke to about it.
I thought about this on my walk to that adoptee-only event I mentioned.
I thought about how that identity — adoptee — is still so invisible, still an afterthought, despite the rapid and incredible rise of adoptee voices in spaces all across the board.
I thought about how these events hold two truths:
we’ve come far as a collective community since the first Asian folks (Filipinos) arrived in the Americas in 1587.
how far we still have to go, especially when it comes to holding ourselves accountable for just checking off diversity boxes for adoptees, trans and queer folks, disable folks, refugees, etc.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity and privilege to attended this event and the AHN conference. It means a lot to be asked to come, to be nominated for my work in the community, to have people recognize me from what I share on LinkedIn and Instagram and beyond.
There’s more to do.
This week on Conversation Piece…
The APAHM Conversations continue with Tony DelaRosa! Tony and Patrick discuss uncovering our histories through the oral narratives of our families, developing mindful, expansive Asian American education policy + curriculum, and how, with our lived experience, we can do this work right now.
Tony DelaRosa is a Filipino American anti-bias, anti-racist educator, ethnic studies researcher, motivational speaker, and cross-racial coalition builder. He is currently a PhD student in the Education Leadership & Policy Analysis program at UW-Madison focusing on Ethnic Studies Policies and how they translate into practices. Lastly, he is the author of Teaching the Invisible Race: Embodying a Pro-Asian American Lens in Schools with Jossey-Bass / WILEY Publishing.
Learn more about Tony: www.tonyrosaspeaks.com
Pre-order his book: Teaching the Invisible Race: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/teaching-the-invisible-race-tony-delarosa/1143179043
Learn more about Dr. Nolan Cabrera: https://coe.arizona.edu/person/nolan-l-cabrera
Later this week…
The APAHM Conversations continue with Sim Shah!
You might’ve seen on social media, but we’ve partnered with Cold Tea Collective to amplify the APAHM Conversations series 👏🏼🙏🏼🎉
I’m really excited about this partnership. I had the privilege of meeting Natasha Jung, the founder of CTC, in Las Vegas. We shared in a few conversations, and I came away from each knowing I had found a kindred spirit in storytelling.
Cold Tea Collective will be helping to amplify the series throughout the month of May. And — this has yet to be announced — we’re also going to be airing a special tenth episode on May 31st with Natasha herself!
So keep tuning in! We really appreciate all the support we’ve gotten so far, helping to take the show to new places!
Cold Tea Collective is a media outlet, sharing the stories of the next generation of the Asian diaspora. Their mission is to inspire the AAPI community through storytelling that will empower them to live their most authentic and fulfilled lives. To learn more, visit coldteacollective.com or follow them here @coldteacollective.
Thanks again to our media partners, Cold Tea Collective, for helping amplify this series.
I’m relieved to be spending time at home this week. I love to travel to events, and I’m grateful to have the privilege to do so. I also need time to recharge.
A lot of friends are very busy this month, when Asian Americans are hyper visible. And events like this, where we celebrate each other, are powerful reminders of the work people have done to overcome the narratives and oppressions that affect our communities.
I can see how much more we have to do.
Just like after Vegas, I feel motivated, excited, and activated. I’m excited about this series and the conversations we need to be having. I’m motivated to continue having those conversations in so many different forms and fashions. We’re in it.
It’s time to get it.
To support this work: