It is May, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The designation includes the Asian Continent and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.
In 1977, two U.S. Senators, on separate occasions, introduced resolutions to proclaim a Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week in May.
In 1978, a resolution to proclaim a week in May 1979 as Asian/Pacific Heritage Week passed and was signed by President Jimmy Carter.
In 1990, Congress expanded the Week to a month for 1990.
In 1992, Congress passed a Public Law designating May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month annually. May was chosen to “commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S.A. on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869”, the majority of the workers having been Chinese immigrants. (Library of Congress et al.)
When I was a child, there was only one Chinese family in the town in which I grew up. They had a son whom I got to know in school. It’s funny that I remember him now as being culturally and phenotypically Chinese, but I did not then. That is not to say that I did not notice that Wong was Wong, but he was simply recognizable like the rest of my friends: A totally individualized being.
Wong gave me a really large Valentine’s Day card when, I think, we were in the third or fourth grade. I kept it for years. His family moved out of town during the summer. Where they went, I do not know. There were no goodbyes. Wong had been a schoolmate, and schoolmates changed. Memories of them remained.
Remembering Wong makes me appreciate my mom’s attitude toward folks. She never identified/referred to people according to their race, ethnicity, or country of origin. It was people’s behavior/attitudes upon which she focused. Good for her.
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is a special time to appreciate and acknowledge the culture, contributions, and achievements of Asian/Pacific Americans. Do not let the viral pandemic keep you from doing so.