Statement by National NOW President Christian F. Nunes
WASHINGTON– This year’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Opportunity,” a vital concept due to the challenges often faced by the AANHPI community, not just in day-to-day life, but also in the workplace. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an unnerving rise in anti-Asian hate crimes which has led to the creation of the necessary campaign – “Stop Asian Hate.” While a focus on the physical acts of violence committed against the AANHPI community is extremely important, challenges faced by the AANHPI community in the workplace are sometimes overlooked but should also be a central part of the conversation. After all, they are both rooted in the same antiquated and racist stereotypes.
The AANHPI community has been a vital part of the labor movement in this country since the 1800s when plantation workers in Hawaii began forming unions to protest working conditions. Despite this, discrimination and marginalization has led to systemic barriers for the AANHPI community, especially in terms of leadership opportunities. AANHPI women are overrepresented in low-wage work and underrepresented in a lot of high paying jobs – and if they do manage to be in these positions then racism often blocks them from advancing further. In fact, over the course of their careers, AANHPI women stand to lose over $400,000 to the gender wage gap.
The AANHPI community is the fastest-growing and most diverse ethnic group in the U.S. and that diversity deserves to be celebrated, not attacked. There cannot be advancement without opportunity and the structural barriers that continue to block the AANHPI community must be confronted head-on to create needed change. NOW proudly celebrates AANHPI Heritage Month and continues to uplift our AANHPI sisters in a push for greater equity and by showcasing resilience in the face of injustice.
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