Grace Chang, VP of Finance, LA
What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you?
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month means a lot to me as a Chinese-American here in the States. It brings awareness and recognition to a minority group that has contributed so much to American culture, academia, health & medicine, business, politics...and yes, even sports (hello Kristy Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan). This awareness means even more to me during the current pandemic -- because in times of crisis, there are those who funnel energy into helping and uplifting our communities and country, and there are others who fan the flames of racism and xenophobia. I hope this month can reaffirm for our country that Asian Pacific Americans are first and foremost…”American”. The “Asian Pacific” part is merely a reminder and celebration of our heritage, and the merging of the two makes us...global citizens and ambassadors for unity.
What has your personal experience been as an Asian-American? (personal, career, etc)
I am proud to be a Chinese American, born in Houston, Texas -- but there wasn’t always an awareness that I needed to be proud of my race. I grew up not really “seeing color”, which quickly changed by the time I reached grade school. From then on, I was faced with teasing and racist mistreatment from time-to-time; mostly harmless, but it was always a reminder of being “different”. The Chinese cultural events and activities my parents pushed me towards didn’t help that feeling of being an outsider...especially during a vulnerable age, when all you want to do is “fit in.” Eventually, as I grew older, I learned to value and appreciate the differences, and I grew to love myself just as I was, and for what I could contribute. I am now raising my 6-year old son to embrace his heritage and have taken him to Taiwan and China to expose him to his ancestry at a young age. I may have overdone it though...since he has been to 10 global Din Tai Fung locations and often requests it for his school lunch. I am proud to be raising an American Xiao Long Bao!