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Washington Post looks at how Pacific Islanders feel about AAPI label

Teyonna Jarman
Source: Washington Post

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM) and there’s a rising tide of discontent among Pacific Islanders who say the Pacific Islander part of this cobbled-together group is neglected.

The Washington Post points out that the “AAPI label encompasses more than 50 ethnic groups with lineages from more than 40 countries — which means a diverse group including East Asians, South Asians and Pacific Islanders can sometimes be treated as an awkward monolith.”

According to the Post many — including Teyonna Jarman whose father is Black American and her mother American Samoan — “say they feel the dominant narratives around AAPIHM often leave out their stories.”

The Post reports Sefa Aina, former presidential commissioner of the White House initiative on AAPIs and associate dean and director of the Draper Center at Pomona College, sees the label as a double-edged sword. There’s helpful visibility in being part of a pan-ethnic group, he said. But some stereotypes about Asian Americans, especially the myth of being the model minority, can obscure real concerns within the Pacific Islander community.

“We have a high dropout rate. We have a low matriculation rate into college. Our number one health problem is obesity,” Aina said, citing issues that hit the Pacific Islander community especially hard.

Read more at The Washington Post