I’m Betty Pei Ching Sun and I’m a proud member of the Human Rights Campaign family, Board of Directors and the Asian-American, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander community. I’m happy to share some thoughts on AANHPI Heritage Month, which we celebrate each May.
Members of the AANHPI community have helped to build our country; from farms and railroads to the arts and sciences, athletic arenas and public offices. And despite the trials and tribulations, hardships and heartbreaks, it’s so touching to me that we are in this place in American history in which our diverse cultures can be recognized with our own affinity month.
My parents came to the United States from Taiwan when I was eight-years-old. They opened a restaurant in Southern California. I lived with my aunt and uncle in Taiwan for three years, seven months and one week, until my parents could finally negotiate the immigration bureaucracy and secure a visa for me as well.
We moved to the United States because my parents wanted a better life for me.
My father gave me six months to learn English. After school every day, I would listen to audiobooks for kindergarten students and follow along with the print editions while holding a mirror to make sure I was pronouncing and enunciating each word correctly. And then I would help my parents at the restaurant, where I could practice speaking English with our guests.
It wasn’t easy and it’s still not always easy. My parents were robbed at gunpoint more than once in America. They feared being harassed and attacked at home, at church, at work, and on the streets. Like so many other Asian-Americans and immigrants, they felt voiceless and suffered violence and racism in silence. My parents told me, “Do well in your schoolwork, keep your head down, don’t make waves and be a positive contributing factor to society.” That was just the Asian way for our family.
The Asian American communities in Dallas and Laguna Woods are just the latest to have to grapple with senseless anti-Asian violence and attempts to silence or erase us. Sign HRC’s petition to stop anti-Asian violence and protect AANHPI people and LGBTQ+ rights.