Dave Park, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, NY
What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?
It's great that there's a month that recognizes Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. For whatever reason Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders often are the forgotten minority so it's nice to have some attention and recognition for our contributions to America.
What has your personal experience been as an Asian-American? (personal, career, etc)
I love being Asian American. Growing up my father would tell me I was "Komerican". It was his way of stating that I was American since I was born here but also at the same time Korean since I was being raised by parents who grew up in Korea. I think it's important for everyone to know where they come from and to be proud of their heritage.
In the area I grew up there were not many Asians. In my high school I could count the number of Asians on one hand. At times this was rough as there were some kids that would bully or make fun of me for being Asian. On the positive side there were other kids that didn't treat me differently because I didn't look like them. And looking back it was cool not being like everyone else. I think it helped me gravitate towards things (e.g. skateboarding, punk rock) that were not considered the norm back then. It also helped me value individuality and being unique versus being like everyone else. If I could do it all over again, I would embrace being Korean American even more.
And anything else you want to share!
I think there's been a general lack of representation of Asian Americans in the public eye. Growing up it would've meant a lot to see people that look like me on tv, but I really only had old Bruce Lee movies. Granted he was pretty cool.
Now I do think that things are starting to change. In recent years there's been solid representation from Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Jeremy Lin, Ronnie Chieng, amongst others. In these cases, I believe that the internet/technology has helped level the playing field. It's also been a factor in starting a media project myself. I'm launching a vodcast (ComedyNoted.com) where my co-host Jess and I interview comedians each week. It's not specific to Asian Americans, but I thought it'd be good to have another Asian American face out there. Granted it could just be my mom watching, but who knows!