The month of May is rich with holidays, cultural celebrations, and religious observances.
In addition to commonly known and celebrated holidays such as May Day, Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Memorial Day, there are lesser-known designated days such as National Chocolate Parfait Day, National Loyalty Day, National Mother Goose Day, National Scrapbook Day, National Paranormal Day, National Day of Prayer, National Eat What You Want Day, National Talk Like Yoda Day, and many others.
Religious holidays during May include Shavuot (Jewish), Pentecost (Christian), Vesak (Buddhist), Milad Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin (Islamic), the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh and the Declaration of the Báb (Bahá’í). Among the residents of Duncanville are members of each of these religious communities.
In terms of HERITAGE, May also commemorates not one but THREE Groups: Older Americans, Jewish Americans, and Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
Many of us can relate to the older group, and some Duncanville residents claim Jewish heritage. But how many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders might we have in our fair town? According to local census statistics, 2.1 percent of the Duncanville population is Asian and .1 percent Pacific Islanders. It’s time to celebrate this aspect of diversity in our midst!
Both categories of people are broad. According to the Census Bureau, an Asian is “a person having origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including Indonesia, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.”
The U.S. Census Bureau defines Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander as “a person having origins in any of the original people of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.”
An obvious way to appreciate Asian cultures is to support the five or six Japanese and Chinese restaurants in our town.
Learning about other cultures is also a sure way to gain understanding, awareness, and empathy. For example, it is interesting to learn that Chinese immigrants came first, to work on the railroads and gold mines in the mid-19th century. Hawaii has the largest Asian American population—nearly 800,000. More than half of all Pacific Islanders live in two states—Hawaii and California.
We might also learn to cook some Asian or Hawaiian dishes, perhaps by exploring markets in the Dallas area such as H Mart, Ko Mart, Hiep Thai, Hong Kong Market, and Mozart Bakery.
Another way to express appreciation is simply to be kind and friendly towards others we see. Sadly, since the pandemic began, incidents of hatred toward Asian Americans have increased. What might we do to help heal this unfortunate outcome of ignorance and prejudice?
Cultivating our taste for films that tell stories about Asians or Pacific Islanders is a great thing to do. Two of my favorites are “Departures” (Japanese) and “Slum Dog Millionaire” (Indian). The recent film “Minari,” about a Korean family who moves to Arkansas, was nominated in the Academy Awards as one of the best pictures of 2020, and Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays the grandmother, just won the Oscar as supporting actress. The film was also nominated for best director, best original screenplay, and best original score. Last year, another film, “Parasite,” won multiple awards.
Celebrating Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is important because they contribute greatly to the U.S. economy and to the strength of our communities, and our awareness of them and their various and diverse cultures will help to further racial and ethnic unity.
The multi-cultural commission wishes to acknowledge and celebrate diversity of all kinds in Duncanville, and we appreciate everyone’s efforts to do so as well.
Happy month of May!
Article Submitted by Anne Perry, MSEP Commissioner
Multicultural Social Engagement Partnership (MSEP)