My first knowledge of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) month came from A-VOYCE. It came up in a casual conversation with my youth coordinator and I remember I was quite surprised. Then I asked if there was a Hispanic heritage month as well. It also exists. I started wondering why I haven’t heard of these months at all. Then it hit me. The schools have always integrated black history month into their curriculum. However, both APIA and Hispanic heritage month were left in the dark. I was able learn about the NAACP and other knowledge regarding the civil rights movement.
What I considered to be one of the most important lessons I learned about in my time in A-VOYCE was about Vincent Chin while the documentary “Who killed Vincent Chin?”. His impact is what made many of the Asian organizations today. What I consider even more interesting is that his murder was after the Civil Rights movement. I am definitely aware that racism still exists, but not to such extremes even in the 1980s. What perplexes me is that the possible reason for murder was due to competition against the Japanese auto industry. This includes charity events in which people who donated were allowed to smash Japanese cars with blunt objects. However, the fact that one man’s death is able to bring together so many is what I find fascinating. Without Vincent Chin, there might not have been protest in the Vietnamese community after Hurricane Katrina or protest against the dilapidated state of the cemetery at Mount Hope.
Furthermore, this led me to research more. Yoshihiro Hattori and other Japanese exchange students who were killed shortly after was what altered gun laws with the Brady Bill passed in 1993. To me, Vincent Chin was the person who had the most influence on me for APIA month. With that said, I believe every heritage month should be celebrated equally in schools.
-Kevin Chan, Metropolitan Youth