Honoring AAPI Month in the city of Fresno

Brianna Willis Image
Friday, May 3, 2024
Honoring AAPI Month in the city of Fresno
A celebration of diversity for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month -- showcased the city's many cultures, woven in the fabric of Fresno.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A celebration of diversity for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month -- showcased the city's many cultures, woven in the fabric of Fresno.

Thursday, the city of Fresno officially proclaimed the month of May as AAPI month.

"Being AAPI means being a part of a beautiful mosaic of culture, tradition and history," said FUSD Trustee, Valerie Davis.

President and CEO of the Fresno center, Pao Yang, says the yearly tradition is especially embraced by the Valley's Hmong-American community- the second largest in the U-S, outside of Asia.

"To have a month to be named after us to celebrate our heritage -- to acknowledge who we are, allows us and gives us the opportunity to share our culture, our rich culture that has been here in the United states for hundreds of years," said Yang.

The recognition included highlighting people who've worked tirelessly to empower the AAPI community, including former ABC30 Reporter and current Director of Communications for the city of Fresno, Sontaya Rose.

Her father immigrated from Thailand to the U.S. in 1970 and recently passed away, so dressing in traditional Thai clothing for today's event as a tribute to her Dad was emotional for Rose.

"My dad really had a way of forming meaningful relationships and connecting with people and I've thought a lot about that in the past few months of really doing good community work with just a heart of compassion," said Rose.

Vietnamese- American, Dr. Kenny Banh, who became a trusted medical expert during the pandemic shares the same dedication to legacy.

"I realize that being a doctor and a first generation Asian American and southeast Asian community -- I have a responsibility to take care and open the door for other people who haven't done that," said Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Medical Education, at UCSF Fresno.

But his mission is more than medical.

"In today's world, there's so much toxicity happening right now, islamophobia, Asian hate crimes and its really important to just think about like, what cultures bring to make America -- America is the greatest melting pot we have," said Dr. Banh.

The fight against Asian hate continues.

Restaurant owner David Rasavong felt the sting of racism when online rumors forced his family to close Tasty Thai. But an outpouring of love enabled the business to re-emerge as Love & Thai, to reflect the community's support.

"When you support each other, when you show love for each other whether you're an Asian American -- whether you're an African American -- Mexican -- whether you are Caucasian, that's the biggest form of love to me, to embrace each other's differences because ultimately we are all still human beings, because we all come from different backgrounds that should be honored, cherished and shared with each other," said Rasavong.

The Fresno Center also provides resources when it comes to mental health, immigration, and voter education.

They are also celebrating Hmong American Day next Saturday, May 11.

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