Statement: Father Jenkins on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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“As we mark the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, we have an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the extraordinary contributions of the peoples and cultures of Asia and the Pacific Islands to our world, and particularly to the United States. A major benefit of the growing internationalization of Notre Dame has been more study of and appreciation for these cultures on our campus, particularly through the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, the work of Notre Dame International, and an ever-growing number of students, faculty and staff who bring to us the rich heritage of Asia and the Pacific Islands. We are a stronger community because of this diversity.

“As we celebrate the rich Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage, however, we must also acknowledge, sadly but honestly, a history in the U.S. of discrimination against the peoples of this heritage. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the denigration of Filipinos in the early 20th century and the infamous Japanese internment camps of World War II are but a few examples. Today, xenophobic rhetoric has been on the rise, and in recent weeks we have seen the killings of six Asian women in Atlanta and four Asian men and one woman in Indianapolis. Tragically, just days ago, Shane Nguyen, a beloved member of the Vietnamese Catholic community in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was brutally murdered and dismembered. We mourn these senseless killings and we stand in solidarity with Asian and Pacific Island members of our community and our country.

“We at Notre Dame must never tire of striving to deepen our appreciation of peoples of every race and ethnic heritage, celebrating their gifts and discovering the deeper humanity that binds us. We must fight against every form of bigotry and exclusion, for it is only by doing so that we can be the community and institution we aspire to be. 

“We are called to fulfill the promise of this commitment every month and, indeed, every day at Notre Dame. Let us, though, make this month of May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, a time to ensure members of these communities are fully included in the Notre Dame community. We will all be richer for it.”