Editor’s Note: The Fairfax County School Board proposed and passed the first Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Resolution in the FCPS history on May 6, 2021. The resolution was sponsored by At-Large Member Ms. Karen Keys-Gamarra, second by Hunter Mill District Member Ms. Melanie Meren. Six FCSB members made statements in support of this motion. The Board meeting video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGMwtjnwToc&t=24m

 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

WHEREAS, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up 20 percent of the population in Fairfax County according to the US Census Bureau including 35,000 students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade; and,

WHEREAS, Asian Americans established their first settlement in 1763 and over time have endured such injustices as the Asian Exclusion Act that prohibited immigration from Asia and the Japanese Internment that established concentration camps that incarcerated Asian U.S. citizens from 1942 until 1946; and,

WHEREAS, Asian American and Pacific Islander students and their families reflect the rich and vibrant diversity of cultures, histories, and languages of the many different countries of Asia and the Pacific Islands, and are valued members of our community; and

WHEREAS, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made significant contributions in areas of infrastructure, economy, and technology that have propelled our country and have played a pivotal role in America’s history; and

WHEREAS, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have achieved great accomplishments in fields of math, science, education, the arts, and civil rights that benefit past, current and future generations; and

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NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Fairfax County School Board joins Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in celebrating May as 2021 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, in recognition of the many contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our society.

 

Motion & Voting

The Fairfax County School Board joins Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in celebrating May as 2021 Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, in recognition of the many contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to our society.

Motion by Karen A Keys-Gamarra, second by Melanie K Meren.

Final Resolution: Motion Carries

Yes: Ricardy J Anderson – Chair, Melanie K Meren, Rachna S Heizer, Elaine V Tholen, Tamara D Kaufax, Karen Corbett Sanders, Karen A Keys-Gamarra, Stella Pekarsky – Vice Chair, Abrar Omeish, Laura Jane H Cohen, Karl V Frisch

 

Appendix: Thank-You Letter from CAPA NoVA to the Fairfax Count School Board

May 10, 2021

Dear Fairfax County School Board Members,

Thank you for passing the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Resolution at the May 6th FCPS School Board meeting! Our families gathered around their kitchen tables anxiously awaiting the outcome and were elated when it passed with a decisive vote! Words can’t express our overwhelming joy and appreciation of this!  Separately we want to thank Ms. Keys Gamarra for sponsoring the Resolution and Ms. Meren for being the second motion.  We also thank all six Board Members (Ms. Key Gamarra, Ms. Meren, Ms. Tholen, Ms. Sizemore Heizer, Ms. Omeish and Ms. Sanders) for speaking from your hearts and sharing inspiring and powerful messages!

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This is the moment that we felt like proud Asian Americans!

We want to express why the Board’s passing of the Resolution means so much to our community:

  • Though May was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in the US in 1992, we didn’t see the open and full recognition and celebration of the AAPI Heritage Month locally or at the state level.
  • In the pandemic’s wake, Asian Americans endured verbal attacks and physical assaults which left many people feeling abandoned in this country, ashamed of their identity, and helpless. Passing this Resolution is a step towards healing and bringing us all together.
  • This is a path towards educating and creating awareness of Asian Americans’ rich and vibrant cultures and their crucial contributions to the US in our FCPS system. It’s an acknowledgment of how AAPI shaped America’s history and set the stage for America’s future.

As we began to share our voice and concerns and worked closely with the Fairfax County School Board and the General Assembly members since March, we all came to this realization:

  • Asian Americans’ history is a vital part of US history and shall be included in the school learnings fully and fairly. An important piece of US history is missing without it, leaving the void filled by misunderstanding, stereotypes, biases and hatred.
  • We should recognize and celebrate the AAPI Heritage Month in a full and meaningful way.
  • We should ensure that the AAPI community is fairly represented and included in the decision-making process.
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The passing of the Resolution on May 6th is a key milestone and a huge step in the right direction. We all know that this is a marathon, and not a sprint.  There is a lot of work to be done to take actions and make changes.

On behalf of the Chinese American Parents Association of Northern Virginia (CAPA NoVA), we want to thank you for your devotion in leading our FCPS education journey and ensuring one shared history and one community.  Our passionate volunteers are committed to supporting your work and providing any assistance where needed.

Lastly, CAPA NoVA has organized a series of May Heritage Month events.  We welcome the FCPS School Board members and the leadership team to promote the information and attend our events:

–     May Heritage Month: Essay Contest

–     May 14th 8-10pm Fireside ChatAsian American Youth’s Identity and Experiences

–     Distinguished Asian Americans project (on-going from April – June 2021)

Sincerely,

 

Yuyan Zhou, President of CAPA-NoVA

Jun Wang, Vice President of CAPA-NoVA

Jay Song, Vice President of CAPA-NoVA

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