Growth happens when stories are shared and perspectives are heard, and May definitely met that measure. Over the last few weeks, members of the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, from AT&T team members to external experts and leaders from a variety of industries, poured out their stories – tales of family and culture, of hope and working against hate, and, most importantly, of who they are and how we can support them being their whole selves in the spaces we share. I’m grateful to the many people who lent their voice to our events, PSAs and other channels for celebrating AAPI Heritage Month.
To kick off the month, my friend and peer, Kelly King, AT&T Executive Vice President of Sales & Distribution, shared his personal story on how his mother came to the U.S. from Japan to marry the man she loved and build a life and family. Another highlight from the month was the amazing panel hosted by Anne Chow, AT&T Business CEO, featuring Emily Chi of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), Phil Tajitsu Nash of Asian American Legal Defense Education Fund (AALDEF), and Masashi Niwano of Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). Anne led these community leaders in a conversation on the impact of stereotypes and microaggressions and how others can be better allies as the community is affected by increased violence against Asians and Pacific Islanders. In discussing the need for representation Niwano explained that seeing Asians in all walks of life provides not only a roadmap for the individual, but also their family and community to understand the rich variety of experiences available. Watch the full replay of the panel here.
The concept of necessary representation was also reflected upon earlier in May during the “Reframing the Narrative” employee event hosted by our Asian ERG, InspirASIAN. The assembled panelists, which included actor Mindy Kaling, California Assemblyman Evan Low and Sarita Rao, AT&T SVP, Integrated and Partner Solutions, discussed evolving the narrative on AAPI communities through the work of entertainment, corporate, nonprofit and other sectors. Sarita also appeared in AT&T’s Every Story Lived video , as she and other AT&T leaders talked about their culture and heritage. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s a beautiful exploration of family, legacy and the importance of being seen. Another touchpoint of a powerful story shared happened when InspirASIAN hosted Shannon Lee, daughter of legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, for her “Finding Your Inner Warrior” session, where she talked about her father’s teachings and legacy.
In hearing all these personal stories of finding meaning and connection through shared ethnicity and persevering against discrimination, I reflected on how we all can do more to positively influence the stories of AAPI people. Calling out instances of racism, holding leadership accountable to ensure problems are addressed – these are the ways we can move society forward and make our workplaces and communities more equitable and safer for everyone. The connections and education required to do this don’t stop at the end of the month, and I encourage all of you to keep learning about the variety of cultures and people of the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander community.