As many know, one of the titles for the month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

I remember only one Asian (Chinese) family living in my hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, when I was a child. I knew the son from grade school. The family owned a business in the downtown shopping area, but they moved before I was in fourth grade. I think I still remember the son because he was the only Asian person I knew, and we got along.

Throughout my adulthood, I met, worked with and socialized with Asians from a variety of countries. describes Asians as people having “origins in any of the original people of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent.” It did not make any difference to me what their origin was.

Decades ago, when I used to live on Elmwood Avenue and walk along that street near Dempster Street, I often met an older Asian man in a blue robe taking a walk. I knew he was affiliated with the Zen Buddhist Temple or Chinese Cultural Academy on Dempster, but I did not know his name or his title. He always greeted me pleasantly, so I decided to ask him to let me take his photo. He let me, and I did a painting from the photo.

A painting by Peggy Tarr. Credit: Peggy Tarr

I am glad that I have pleasant memories of my interactions with Asians. I was saddened and angry about the rise in Anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic that was reported by the U.S. Department of Justice. Bigoted idiots assumed that anyone who appeared to be Asian was Chinese, and to blame for the pandemic. Some rumors had suggested that China created and/or spread the COVID-19 virus.

But … an attack targeting someone in the U.S. who is ethnically Chinese is usually an attack on a Chinese American. Who is what? An American.

It is encouraging that so many people of different races attend and participate in Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month celebrations.

Some other titles for May include:

  • Mental Health Awareness Month.
  • Older American Month.
  • Jewish American Heritage Month.
  • Haitian Heritage Month.

Upcoming May Holidays:

  • May 20 – Armed Forces Day.
  • May 26 – Shavuot (Jewish holiday).
  • May 29 – Memorial Day.

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...

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