May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the rich contributions Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have made across King County. It’s a history of struggle, advancement, triumph, celebration, heritage, and family.
The AAPI community is not a monolith. There are 48 countries that make up Asia, and a diversity of distinct cultures, history, food, and languages. The AAPI community has been foundational to the history and development of Seattle and our region.
The past year and a half has been particularly challenging for our AAPI community. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against AAPIs increased 150% across major US cities. This discrimination is ongoing, and is rooted in historic and systemic racism that perpetuates exclusion, othering, and xenophobia. This anti-Asian sentiment is not new as evidenced in the anti-Chinese riots in Seattle in 1886 and Japanese incarceration during World War II. We must understand this history and continue the work to call out violence and take action against hate to keep our co-workers, friends, and families safe.
A part of the AAPI heritage in our region runs through the heart of one of Metro’s busiest routes. Route 36 will take through Seattle’s International District/Chinatown, where you can eat, and visit locations that are part of our shared regional history.
AAPI history is American history and our shared solidarity in reckoning with historical and current experiences of oppression is crucial in creating an anti-racist community where we all experience belonging.
Michelle Allison is King County Metro’s Deputy General Manager