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AAPI Nevadans: The challenges and triumphs

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian America and Pacific Islander Month, a time we recognize the history, culture and achievements of the AAPI community. 

In Nevada and in the U.S., Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing ethnic or racial group. According to the U.S. Census, the AAPI population has increased by more than 175% in the last decade.

With growth come both opportunities and challenges. 

Vida Lin is president of the Asian Community Development Council. She founded the nonprofit in 2015. It helps with voter education, citizenship and health insurance enrollment as well as college readiness and food assistance. 

Last year was huge for the nonprofit. It distributed more than 400,000 pounds of food to AAPI families facing financial hardship. It administered almost 2,000 COVID-19 shots. And ACDC also registered more than 1,500 people to vote.

When you show data that we need the services just as much as anyone else, they understand where we come from. And I think we haven't asked for support in the past. And I think we really need to show our voices.

Lin said it's sometimes difficult to get sponsors for programs because some think Asian American and Pacific Islander people aren't also struggling. The pandemic proved otherwise. 

Mark Padoongpatt, director of Asian and Asian American Studies at UNLV, said this "model minority" myth can be detrimental, not only to AAPI health, but also to how people perceive the diverse community.

How we frame why AAPI history matters ... It's really important to show the complexity. We're fully human, right? Sometimes we mess up.

Congress picked the month of May in 1992 to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. on May 7, 1843. It also celebrates the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.

Most of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. 

Why is distrust of Asian Americans rising? Listen:
AAPI Nevadans: The challenges and triumphs

Vida Lin, president, Asian Community Development Council; Michelle Lin, clinical director, HAPI Medical Center; Mark Padoongpatt, director, Asian American Studies, UNLV

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a former producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports.