May 2, 2009

Day #2: Our Heritage Spreads Across the Sky

Heritage Month feels kind of overwhelming on the East Coast. I think it's because we don't have a steady stream of things going on in the community or cultural arena at all times, particularly in parts of NYC and I'm sure in other seaboard cities. So to have a full calendar with multiple things going on every day makes me wish that 1) I had a lot more time to just go to events like I did when I was a pup; and/or 2) we need to get our act together and spread this shit out.

I remember really feeling community at some of the earliest events I went to. But it's far more than just the activities and social side of it, enit? We're not just creating new holidays to celebrate when most of our calendars already have many that we go through with family and community every year already. "Heritage month" isn't just to a time to see old friends, to gather and to celebrate. It's also a time to reflect, to say yo, "we're still here, we're growing strong, and we're getting tired of saying we belong" (Chris Iijima, "Asian Song").

In our celebrations this month, are we counting the histories of struggle, of resistance, of oppression, as part of this heritage? Or is this about just saying we're proud of Chinese food (again, hat tip to Chris Iijima) and Kal Penn? I'm asking that we remember that our "heritage" as Asians, Pacific Islanders, whomever, living within the boundaries and borders of the United States extends far beyond our ancestral links and traditions. Our heritage is far richer, the things we pass on to our children far more vibrant than just those things that we've left behind or that may be worth leaving behind. Our heritage includes what we are doing today, and what we'll do tomorrow.

I'm all for celebrating that.

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