The Elevating Power of Resistance
By Lynn Branigan
Architect, designer and sculptor Maya Lin once said, “To fly we have to have resistance.” It is such an evocative thought that conjures images of birds flying into the wind so they can soar to new heights and places.
As we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the importance of resistance – and resilience – is illuminated. While celebrating the cultural significance of these populations is something we should do throughout the year, the month creates a meaningful moment to learn about the rich, diverse histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to understand the impact and the contributions they have made to our world.
It’s also an important moment to understand the struggles and injustices that these communities have faced, and continue to face, and how they have boldly pushed against resistance to create opportunities and success.
The national theme for this AAPI heritage month is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity”, and I’ve discovered so many leaders who have made an indelible mark on our country’s history:
· Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann (Hawaii) and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (China) were suffragists in the fight for women’s voting rights.
· Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (Chinese American), known as the first lady of physics, made significant contributions to physics, biology, and medicine.
· Ruth Asawa (Japan), redefined sculpture through the innovative use of wire. In addition to becoming an internationally celebrated artist, she was an advocate for art education, founding her own school.
· Yuri Kochiyama (Japanese American) was a civil rights activist who spoke out against oppressive institutions and injustice in the United States, helping to achieve the liberation and empowerment of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Puerto Ricans.
· Thelma Garcia Buchholdt (Philippines) was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1974 becoming the first Filipinx American legislator in the U.S. A civil rights leader, Buchholdt researched the lives of important figures in Filipinx Alaskan history and published Filipinos in Alaska: 1788-1958, the only publication to date that focuses on the contribution of Filipinx Americans to Alaska’s history.
The list of AAPI leaders is extensive and encompasses politics, sports, news, entertainment, art, medicine, and beyond.
A record 23 million Asian American people trace their roots to more than twenty countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, and these Asian American people – the fastest growing population in the US – comprise about 7% of the U.S. population. She Runs It stands proudly with the AAPI community, and we will seek to bring greater awareness to this remarkable population throughout May and the entire year by spotlighting, quoting, and celebrating the people who comprise our rich, cultural mosaic, and the leaders who have used resistance to help the AAPI population rise up and soar.