Welcome and introduction

In this issue, we celebrate and honor the beauty of AAPI cultures while also recognizing some of the adversities faced in these communities.

"And with irrepressible determination and optimism, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have prevailed over adversity and risen to the top of their fields — from medicine to business to the bench. But even now, too many hardworking AAPI families face disparities in health care, education and employment that keep them from getting ahead."

President Barack Obama,
Presidential Proclamation,
Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2013

April 30, 2013, President Barack Obama declares another May, Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. While the overall tone of his proclamation was optimistic and hopeful, President Obama also thought it important to acknowledge the many challenges faced by the AAPI community in the United States, citing persecution, violence and rising hate crimes, particularly against Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities. This month as OEMA celebrates Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we also thought it would be important to present a comprehensive view of Asian American and Pacific Islander populations.

In this issue, we celebrate and honor the beauty of AAPI cultures while also recognizing some of the adversities faced in these communities. If we want to ensure that our next generation does not experience the hardships of their predecessors, we must present a full picture of our communities, the triumphs along with the challenges. We know that awareness is the first step to change, so we begin by presenting highlights from a special issue of The Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology on violence against individuals and communities. Muninder K. Ahluwalia, PhD discusses issues of stereotyping, profiling, loss of human and civil rights and hate crimes against Sikh American men and boys in her article, “What’s under There?” The Questioning of Civil Rights for Sikh Men, while Rebecca L. Toporek, PhD, the editor of this special issue, challenges psychologists to work with communities of color to advocate for change in response to the violence these communities may experience. Excerpts from the special issue on violence against individuals and communities are followed by APA’s efforts on gun violence and public health.

We continue our attempt to present a more nuanced view of AAPI communities by featuring an article from a special issue of the Asian American Journal of Psychology on Tiger parenting, Asian-heritage families, and child/adolescent well-being. In this piece, authors Linda P. Juang, PhD, Desiree Baolin Qin, PhD, and Irene J. K. Park, PhD, encourage us to move beyond myths and stereotypes of Asian and Asian American families to appreciate the diversity and complexities of  these communities. This article is followed by the first installment of a short weekly series called Island Tidbits in which June W. J. Ching, PhD, ABPP and her colleagues from Hawai‘i present the rich diverse culture of Hawai‘i communities along with personal reflections about Hawai‘i’s treasures, places and people in an effort to prepare the APA community for our 121st Annual Convention, which will be held in Hawai‘i this year. Due to a technological upgrade to our web systems, the summer issue of the Communiqué will not be released until after the convention, so OEMA related convention programming is also presented in this issue.

Finally, through our Ethnicity and Health in America Series (EHAS), we are raising awareness concerning family demands and expectations as it relates to stress among Asian and Asian American populations. A full description of OEMA’s film screening and interactive forum entitled Great Expectations: Exploring family dynamics and stress among Asian and Asian-American populations organized in honor of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is included in the OEMA updates along with a brief discussion of other recent OEMA activities and calls. This includes a brief report from the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) written by CEMA Chair Helen A. Neville, PhD, and an update on the Diversity Initiative of the Committee of State Leaders (CSL) written by Diversity Liaisons Takako Suzuki, PhD, and Phyllis Bolling, PhD.

As always, I want to thank the staff of OEMA for their continued effort to produce the work of our office. I also want to extend a very heartfelt thank you to our colleagues for their submissions. Without their contributions, this issue would not have been possible.

I will close with words from our president. “We can reaffirm our legacy as a Nation where all things are possible for all people. So this month, as we recognize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are fulfilling that promise in every corner of our country, let us recommit to giving our children and grandchildren the same opportunity in the years ahead” (Presidential Proclamation Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2013).

Tiffany G. Townsend, PhD
Senior Director of OEMA