This Week on One Detroit: A special AAPI Heritage Month episode 

Examining Michigan’s AAPI Community: A roundtable on the issues, activism and legislative developments 

As one of the fastest growing demographics in the state, Michigan’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community finds itself at the forefront of advocating for change, with potential new state legislation, efforts to include AAPI history in public schools and an outpouring of advocacy and activism shaping the present-day Asian American narrative.  

On the legislative front, Michigan is witnessing the emergence of potential new laws that directly address the concerns and needs of the AAPI community. These proposed measures seek to combat anti-Asian hate crimes and increase the visibility and recognition of AAPI history in Michigan’s public schools. Legislators and grassroots advocates alike are pushing for comprehensive and accurate representations of the AAPI community’s contributions, experience and struggles throughout American history.  

Within the Asian American community itself, as the torch is passed from one generation of activists to the next, advocacy and activism have surged to address systemic issues and effect meaningful change. Activists, organizers and community leaders have been working tirelessly to dismantle stereotypes, challenge discriminatory policies and amplify the voices of marginalized AAPI communities. 

For AAPI Heritage Month, One Detroit Senior Producer Bill Kubota delves into the multifaceted issues and vibrant activism within Michigan’s AAPI community. He leads a roundtable with Canton High School Social Studies Teacher Richard Mui, Rising Voices Director of Communications Jasmine Rivera, Michigan State Congressman D-24 Rep. Ranjeev Puri, and Kurtis Fernandez, a field director and community organizer for APIA Vote Michigan.  

The roundtable discussion explores the status of AAPI history in Michigan’s schools, how anti-Chinese sentiment might affect the AAPI community here, the media’s treatment and portrayal of the AAPI community, and the need to continue to push boundaries to create change.  

At the intersection of their Asian heritage and American upbringing, Jack Cheng and Paul Pham unpack what home really means

When writer and artist Jack Cheng first met community home builder Paul Pham at a mutual friend’s house in Detroit in 2021, he took notice—mainly because he didn’t often encounter many other Asian people in the city. That meeting would be the first step towards forming their friendship. 

Jack, born in Shanghai, China, spent his childhood growing up in metro Detroit. Paul grew up in a small Vietnamese community in Oklahoma. Both had moved around to big cities — places like Seattle and New York for their careers — before separately deciding to call Detroit and the Midwest home. 

After getting connected and talking more, they realized they had more in common. They both had a deep appreciation for design, and both were in the process of renovating their houses and began to trade ideas. These conversations about the process of building their homes eventually led to more in-depth conversations about their identities as Asian Americans.  

Throughout their time getting to know each other, each sensed the other was open to having conversations that reached beyond surface-level subjects. They were also at a stage in their lives where they finally felt ready to unpack their experiences being Asian American, experiences they hadn’t yet shared with anyone else before. 

For One Detroit’s AAPI Stories series, Cheng and Pham met up to talk about the common thread that brought them together. They share how their friendship has allowed them to introspect about their own lives, their creative pursuits and their parents’ lives, what being Asian American means to them, and their definition of home. 

One Detroit Weekend: May 19, 2023

Are you looking for some arts, culture, music and family-friendly fun to experience in Southeast Michigan this weekend? Learn about ways you can celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, see one of metro Detroit’s most in-demand jazz drummers, and catch Grammy-winning global icon Seal on his 30th-anniversary tour.  

One Detroit contributor Peter Whorf of 90.9 WRCJ shares what’s happening around metro Detroit during the May 12 weekend and into next week on “One Detroit Weekend.” 

List of Upcoming Events:  

  • The Blue Llama Jazz Café is hosting one of its own, Ann Arbor-based jazz drummer Jesse Kramer, for a free concert starting at 10:30 p.m. Friday, May 19. Reservations are not required.
  • Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with Detroit Public TV, the AAPI performance collaborative IS/LAND and Rising Voices during “Kizuna Tree,” an interactive installation open at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 20 at the Ann Arbor District Library.
  • Don’t miss your chance to see the Grammy-winning global icon Seal, with special guest The Buggles, for his 30th anniversary North American tour. Seal performs for one night only at the Fox Theatre on Sunday, May 21.
  • Head to the St. Hedwig Catholic Church for a free Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert led by conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez. The performance will feature works from Latin-American composers and is part of the orchestra’s Detroit Neighborhood Initiative.
  • The Grosse Pointe War Memorial hosts An Evening of Red, White and Blue from 6-10:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24 featuring cocktails, live music, dinner, fireworks and a formal dedication to the Fred M. Alger Center.
  • Celebrate 150 years of Asian American history in Michigan with the Detroit Institute of Arts AAPI celebration show, “Evolution: Sharing the Journey,” at 7 p.m. Friday, May 19. The event will feature music, dance and food samples from a James Beard Award-nominated chef.
  • Learn about the different families of instruments during the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 20 at Orchestra Hall.
  • Get ready for a rootin’-tootin’ good time as the Honky Tonk Angels perform their classic country tunes at Meadow Brook Theatre. Performances are being held through May 21. 

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