Your Inside Connections

As we reach the end of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month, I continue to reflect on the need for visibility and space where our diverse communities can voice their own stories, continuously and courageously. This is particularly true for the AAPI community even more in the last two years given the rise of racism-fueled attacks and microaggressions targeting Asian and Asian American people.

AAPI people and their communities are essential to the fabric of our society, and many times their experiences, good and bad, are not heard. On the latest edition of Conversations with Corey, I had the privilege to listen and learn firsthand from Thu Nguyen, Executive Director of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates , one of the nation's oldest Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights organizations. My colleague Ellen Kamei, who serves as external affairs area manager in California, joined me and Thu as we discussed the power of representation and diversity in the AAPI community, the ongoing challenges they face head on, and how others can be better allies to uplift their success.

During our rich conversation, we noted the striking 339% increase in Anti-Asian violence in 2021 compared to the year before as the country navigated the pandemic, fueled by misplaced blame and racism. The two leaders also touched on the importance of acknowledging that the AAPI community is a not a monolith. Ellen, whose Japanese American father was born in an incarceration camp in Wyoming, also has Chinese and Puerto Rican heritage from her mother. With the increasing recognition of mixed race as an identity in the U.S., Ellen is the embodiment of the rich diversity of culture, languages and perspective that is prevalent in the AAPI community.

Most importantly, both Thu and Ellen emphasized how important it is to engage in open, honest conversations that can spark a better understanding of, and drive allyship for the AAPI community. Watch the full conversation, here:

In addition to talking with Thu and Ellen, I’ve enjoyed reading and watching AT&T leaders, employees and community partners share meaningful stories that demonstrate their courageous experiences, heritage and continued contributions to business and society that are a vital part of the inclusive world we are working to create.

Check out Sarita Rao’s story of her Indian immigrant parents and how she honors the diversity and cultural richness of the Asian diaspora through the voices of AT&T employees. Jeff Luong’s personal story as a refugee from Vietnam and the impact that access to technology had on his trajectory and community, even now through his work helping close the digital divide through efforts like the newly launched Connected Learning Center. And Ellen Valencia’s explanation of how AT&T collaborates with a diverse group of more than 90 AAPI enterprises through our Supplier Diversity program, to help drive job growth and training opportunities.

I believe we all have a responsibility to contribute meaningfully and influence change. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you learned and plan to continue doing to honor and celebrate the AAPI community, as well as on how we can all continue to work together to build a more diverse and inclusive world.