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Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to honor and celebrate the histories and contributions of Asian Americans. With everything that’s happening in our country, it’s never been more important to deepen awareness of and appreciation for the many unique cultures and perspectives that make up our nation. With diversity and inclusion in mind, it’s important to note that the term "Asian-Pacific American" is quite broad — merging the history, accomplishments and lessons of a large and varied segment of the world's population. In an ideal world, every day would be filled with opportunities to learn about and appreciate people from various cultures. Evolving our understanding of the unique human beings around us can only make the world a better, more accepting, and equitable place.

A look back

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the nation. In the Pacific Northwest, Asian Pacific Americans constitute the largest immigrant and refugee group, and represent the broadest religious, cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity.  Asian Pacific American Heritage Month came about in 1978, when Congress passed a resolution designating a week to celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. They chose May because that’s when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in America in 1843, and when Chinese laborers finished the transcontinental railroad in 1869. By 1990 the celebration evolved into a month-long celebration of pride and remembrance.
 
Along with celebrating the many accomplishments of Asian Pacific Americans, it’s important to reflect on the history of Asian cultures in the U.S., which has been rife with discrimination, exclusion, family separation, labor exploitation, racial profiling, detention and elimination of constitutional and human rights. While the Asian Pacific American community has faced severe discrimination through the years, they have also served in every major conflict including defending the Union at Gettysburg, and have received Congressional Medals of Honor for bravely defending our nation. Their history is one of bravery, creativity and inspiring resistance — part of a larger movement for social justice.

Pride in the present

2018 was full of many notable firsts. "Crazy Rich Asians" is the first successful feature film in North America in over 25 years to feature a majority Asian and Asian American cast. In addition, Asian achievements extend far beyond the silver screen: Priyanka Chopra became the first Indian woman to grace the cover of U.S. Vogue magazine. Chloe Kim became the youngest woman to take home an Olympic gold medal for snowboarding. And for the second time in a row, Americans elected a record number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to Congress. Those are just a handful of the many accomplishments we’ve witnessed throughout the country.

Stacey Mahoney on the left and Deepti Turlapti on the right, both of Microsoft Advertising.
Stacey Mahoney, left, and Deepti Turlapti​, right, of Microsoft Advertising.

Flash forward: a bright future

In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re paying tribute to three inspiring Microsoft Advertising team members: Deepti Turlapti, Michelle Zung, and Gina Choi, and the people who have inspired them.  These incredible women make a difference in many ways, including giving back to help make a brighter future for the communities they live in, and the world.