Asian heritage is American history | OPINION
May 3, 2011 · Updated 11:00 AM
We're an important part of Bellevue.
If you're an employee at Amazon or Microsoft, you work with many of us. Some of us, such as council member Conrad Lee shape city policies. Others add a new flavor to Bellevue cuisine, such as Henry Ku, owner of Henry's Taiwan restaurant in the Lake Hills neighborhood.
Many of us take pride in the epicanthic eye folds or dark skin and hair we were born with. We embrace our American home and honor the language, culture and traditions of our ancestry.
We represent far more than kanji characters tattooed on frat boys and limiting stereotypes: Tiger Mom, bad driver, over-achiever, goody two-shoes.
After all, we're almost 30 percent of the Bellevue population, expanding the new definition of what the Pacific Northwest looks like.
So who are we? We're okasans and otosans, makuahines and makuakanes, kapatids and pinsans, ammammaas and ammappas, YeYes and NaiNais (and if you were wondering, that's Japanese, Hawaiian, Tagalong, Tamil and Mandarin).
We are Americans of Asian and Pacific Island descent.
May is Asian-Pacific Heritage Month in the U.S., a time to recognize the peoples of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
We celebrate in May to mark May 7, 1843 when the first Japanese immigrated to the United States, and to commemorate when the transcontinental railroad was completed on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Here in Bellevue, Asian-Pacific communities have grown more than the city population as a whole. We help run your city programs, businesses, restaurants and yes – even the local newspaper.
As we've stirred the melting pot and mixed the salad bowl, we've added our own garnishes along the way: Bon Odori, Diwali and New Year celebrations, language schools and cultural offerings at Crossroads.
But like all commemorative months in the U.S., May is not simply a time for we of Asian-Pacific descent to reinvigorate our cultural pride.
A country founded by immigrants should rejoice in its collective heritage. To copy Morgan Freeman, Asian-Pacific history is American history.