Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

     By Richard Patrick, Chair of Charlotte County Democrats Diversity & Inclusion Committee     

In 1992, May was officially designated as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month to celebrate and embrace the many contributions that the AAPI community has made to the United States. With its endless diversity of peoples, places of origin and ethnic designations, the AAPI community continues to play an important role in the continued development and evolution of the United States through their collective contributions.

While we encounter members of the AAPI in our daily lives here in Charlotte County, and as we celebrate with them, we should take a moment to reflect on the sheer breadth and scope of the AAPI community. In many instances, many of the members of the AAPI community are self-evident to us, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani. But do you know the full ethnic breadth, geographic scope and impressive diversity within the AAPI community itself?

Let’s take a look. The groupings are remarkable, dizzyingly complex and astonishingly varied in scope. Above, I mentioned a few of the groupings that we encounter in Charlotte County. Here are some others that may not be so well known to you. Did you know that the AAPI community includes people of Mongolian descent from East Asia, or Bangladeshis from South Asia, and peoples from Central Asia including Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan? Also included are of course Hawaiians, and the other peoples from the Pacific Islands of Polynesia and Micronesia. Surprisingly, the AAPI community also includes the peoples of West Asia. In that group are Armenians, Jordanians and Turks.  All said, the AAPI community includes a wide swath of people whom we might not have otherwise thought of as Asians.  Together, these groupings are an amazingly diverse and talented group who must be celebrated for their many contributions in all spheres of American life. Without them, America would be a less vibrant nation, and we would be worse off for it.

So together let’s celebrate AAPI month. Say “hello” to your fellow Charlotte County dweller of Asian descent. Eat at an Asian restaurant-Thai, Indian, Chinese and enjoy the culinary delights.  Don’t just celebrate AAPIs this month, but do so throughout the year. We will all be the better for it.