Pausing to Reflect on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

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Throughout the past month, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of the Asian American/Pacific Islanders that enrich our company. From corporate leadership to owners and agents, diverse perspectives elevate much of what we do here at NextHome.

“This month carries special importance to countless families, such as my own, who can trace their lineage to Asia and the Pacific Islands,” said NextHome Chief Operating Officer, Tei Baishiki. “With yesterday being Memorial Day, I can’t help but think of my uncle Haluto Moriguchi who served in World War II and was awarded numerous medals and badges including the Congressional Gold Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and Bronze Star Medal. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community continues to contribute to our country in meaningful ways that we might never be able to measure or fully comprehend.”  

AAPI contributions were first formally recognized in 1978 when Congress dedicated the first 10 days of May as a time of remembrance and reflection. May was a particularly meaningful month to the AAPI community as it coincided with two important milestones: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad completed May 10, 1869.

In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Sweeping across a massive expanse of the globe, more than 60 percent of the world’s population lives in Asia. Asian American/Pacific Islanders come from dozens of distinct countries, speak more than 100 dialects, and each comes to the United States with widely diverse heritages and philosophies. 

“AAPI Heritage Month has really helped me better understand my own culture and Asian heritage,” said Trish Arcaro, agent at NextHome Experience in Bangor, Maine. 

“It has helped me connect with others and really embrace who I am as an Asian-American Pacific Islander. Coming from Indonesia, married to an Italian, and now the mother of two beautiful children, I have taught and reminded my children of where their Asian heritages come from and to be proud.”

Asian American/Pacific Islanders account for about 7 percent of America’s population – but that number is growing fast. According to the United States Census Bureau, the Asian American population grew faster than any other racial or ethnic group over the last decade, surging 81 percent between 2000 and 2019. The Census Bureau projects that this trend will continue and estimates that in 2060, the Asian population will reach 46 million, accounting for 9.1 percent of the U.S. total. 

“AAPI Heritage Month is a time when we as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are recognized for our culture, achievements, and contributions to America’s history and growth,” added NextHome Hometown Realty Group broker/owner Jodi Hogin, who is based in Kahului, Hawaii. 

As AAPI contributions to our communities increase, it also accelerates the need for real estate agents to better understand the diverse communities they serve. NextHome is committed to paying for each and every NextHomie’s At Home With Diversity® certification course. In May, nearly 700 NextHome members completed the training and are in the process of finalizing their certification through NAR.

“I’m honored by the diversity within our organization; it’s one of the best ways to expand our horizons and add more creativity and innovation to our industry,” Tei said. 

AAPI people have made revolutionary contributions to art, filmmaking, medicine, economics, politics, religion, and many other areas of American life. The currently sitting 117th Congress includes a record 21 Members of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, and AAPI individuals serve at all levels of the American Judiciary.  The foundations of American expansion were laid throughout America’s Gilded Age by Chinese and other Asian peoples who, though unheralded and abused, persevered and paved the way toward the West Coast, where NextHome was born and still thrives today. 

Unfortunately, no discussion of AAPI Heritage Month is complete without serious reflection on America’s fraught history of racism. The U.S. House of Representatives Resolution that officially recognizes AAPI Heritage Month references five different ways in which the U.S. formally, or informally, damaged AAPI communities. U.S. history is littered with relocation camps, immigration bans, stripping military benefits from Filipinos, and direct animosity and violence. The FBI reported 279 hate crimes against Asians in 2020, compared to 161 in 2019. 

“Minimizing or pretending that discrimination against Asian Americans doesn’t exist is not the way forward. Sending thoughts and prayers when targeted violence occurs is also not a solution,” said Charis Moreno, Vice President of Sales at NextHome. “We’ll continue to have open conversations about how we conduct business and how we can best serve our members and their clients. It’s our responsibility to speak out and take action.”

Reflecting on the contributions AAPI creates a catalyst toward our condemnation of abuse, discrimination, and hate of any kind. 

“We need to see more awareness on unconscious bias, and more efforts against stereotyping,” Jodi added.

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