On Tuesday, May 10, HCN hosted our inaugural Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month Celebration. The program highlighted diverse voices at HCN that represent these communities. We were honored to have Dr. Saidah Leatutufu-Burch, Director of the Dream Keeper Initiative, join our celebration as the keynote speaker.
Dr. April Y. Silas, HCN’s own Executive Director, opened the celebration and introduced Dr. Hazel Benigno, HCN’s Program Director who was also the program coordinator for this inaugural AANHPI Heritage Month Celebration. Dr. Hazel Benigno helped our community reflect on the importance of this month by saying,“We hold this celebration during an ongoing trend of violence towards the AANHPI community, between racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans and ongoing struggles for Indigenous sovereignty in the kingdom of Hawai'i and in our respective homelands. We recognize all this and continue to be steadfast in our cause for celebration, because our communities are more than our struggles.”
By holding this space, HCN staff members of the AANHPI community paid tribute to their heritage and honored their ancestors. The program performers gifted us with beautiful presentations about topics including traditional foods, music, festivals, dances, and different cultural clothing.
Our powerful guest keynote speaker Dr. Saidah Leatutufu-Burch, Director of the San Francisco Dream Keeper Initiative, spoke about the intersection of being Samoan and African American by sharing,“I know I am just as rooted in Samoa, as I am in West Africa, as I am in the Atlantic, as I am in Pasifika, but oftentimes it can feel as if I’m going unseen in this fight for Black liberation and Indigenous sovereignty.”
She reminded us all that, “without the root, the plant does not thrive.”
The event was overflowing with beautiful presentations and deep learning! HCN is so grateful to all who attended our inaugural AANHPI Heritage Month Celebration. We hope you will join us again next year.