By Neel Saxena, AALEAD Executive Director
Photos Courtesy of Various Sources
Every May, the Asian Pacific American (APA) community gears up for a month-long celebration full of forums, events, galas, and various activities to commemorate the contributions of APAs. Recently, I was asked to present at a private school in NYC for an effort called stories not being told about the Asian American experience. Every May, we have an opportunity to share our stories with the country and at AALEAD sharing stories is a part of our effort to change the narrative. One of the questions I received from this elite private school on the upper west side was from a South Asian American 5th grader:
Why doesn’t school tell us these stories?,
Where can we even find these stories?
What’s the reason for keeping this from us?
The U.S. History curriculum has a Eurocentric perspective that often overlooks the stories and history of many communities of color, including the Asian American community. This helps perpetuate a narrative of the model minority by ignoring the history of the diverse ethnic experiences that differ in the broader Asian American experience. The idea of an Asian American experience is in itself abstract: there is no a European American experience; instead, we talk about Italian, French, and Irish communities with varied histories, cultures, languages, experiences, and food.
As Asian American LEAD celebrate 20 years of transformative work in youth development working towards creating a model for positive youth development in the APA community, we are also expanding our advocacy work by sharing stories not being told. These are the stories of low-income and underserved APA youth. We are looking at being more intentional in this effort, which is why it is part of our strategic plan, “Demonstrate and effectively advocate for & community needs of and program impact on low-income and underserved APA youth and community.”
This month, please follow us on Facebook for a series of posts under #OurStoriesOurHistory, where we will highlight various stories of APA history which is our American history. These stories are not found in textbooks or classrooms and help change the monolith narrative that ignores the uniqueness of our youth, families, and communities.