For Immediate Release
October 3, 2022
Lucy He’s essay, urging the WA Legislature to establish January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month, has been selected as the petition letter.
Bellevue Washington – October 3, 2022 – Lucy He, a junior at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley, won a national essay competition. Her essay has also been selected to be the Chinese American community’s petition letter to the Washington Legislature to establish January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month. The Chinese American community has been battling to establish January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month in Washington, recently known as SB 5264, for 3 legislative sessions. With the petition now live online and open to the public to sign, they are gearing up for the fourth fight this coming 2023 legislative session.
In her email on March 7th, Rep. Cindy Ryu discredited the community’s effort and claimed “this group, which I do not believe speaks on behalf of the immigrant Chinese nor ABC persons I know”. Linda Yang, Director of Washington Asians For Equality, disputed Ryu’s claim and said, “We have been advocating for Americans of Chinese Descent History Month for 3 years. The online petition, which was drafted by Lucy He, a second-generation Chinese American, is collecting supporters’ names right now. We will decisively prove that Rep. Ryu was wrong in misrepresenting a sub-ethnic group that she clearly was not qualified to represent and discrediting grassroots community groups.”
The ACE Foundation organized an essay competition this past summer. The topic of the essay competition was: “the importance and value of having Washington State officially recognize January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month”. Students from the west coast of Washington, California, to the east coast of Maryland, Massachusetts, participated in the competition. “We were blown away by the quality of those essays. For example, Jeslyn Cai, a high school senior from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, used the economic AD-IA model and the GDP accounting formula to illustrate the positive impact on the state’s economy if January is designated as American of Chinese Descent History Month. In the end, Lucy He’s essay was chosen because of her broad and deep understanding of this issue, her powerful and convincing arguments, and her impressive writing skills.” Said Kan Qiu, President of ACE Foundation.
As the president of her school’s Junior States of America (JSA) club, Lucy He is no stranger to political involvement and activism. “… once I researched the topic and educated myself on this bill and its journey, I felt a deeper, more passionate dedication allotted to this project and essay. It was easy for me to express my frustration and reasoning in an eloquent manner. I am hopeful that this essay will reach beyond this competition; it is so much more than that.” Said He. When asked how she feels that her essay will be seen by many in the Chinese American community and represent their voices to the WA Legislature, He said ” To the Chinese reading my essay, I would say that we must keep fighting for what we believe in. That is the most important thing in our society and we must take advantage of our platforms and democracy. Furthermore, I hope we can offer our support to other members of the community when needed as they do the same for us.”
“I am extremely proud that our younger generation understands January’s vital role in Chinese Americans’ culture and history, and how critical it is to have a month-long recognition in January.” said Yang. After citing a series of historical events that happened in January, Sammi Wang, a high school sophomore from California, wrote, “This very train of Chinese American history tumbles through time, retracing back to dates of shame, humiliation, and unity- and the rails ran most in January.” And 6th grade student, Emily Shi, argued that “[s]hortening the month to a week or day wouldn’t give them enough recognition. Although we cannot directly apologize, this would be a sincere way to make up for their mistreatment.”
When asked about the attempt by several members of the House Democrat Caucus to move the designation from January to some other time, Yang hit back very hard: “Yes, we are aware of the plot by Rep. My-Linh Thai, Rep. Cindy Ryu, and Rep. Sharon Santos to sabotage the January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month bill. People need to ask why the House Democratic Caucus entrusts a group of non-Chinese legislators with deciding what the community wants for Chinese Americans. This type of racist behavior is alarming. “
The Chinese American community is clearly motivated and ready for another battle in 2023. They have demonstrated that the idea of establishing January as Americans of Chinese History Month is well supported across generation lines and across stateliness. In the closing of her essay, Lucy He said, “We determinedly desire a reconsideration of SB 5624 and hope to see its passage into law shortly.” Will legislators in Washington State listen this time?