Chinese Americans from New York and New Jersey are joining other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in celebrating their cultural heritage as part of a national thematic tradition in the making.
New York City held its first-ever annual Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Cultural and Heritage Parade on Sunday with the participation of immigrants from China, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Thailand and others.
The hours-long parade, joined by officials and delegations from Asian countries as well as local Asian Americans, took place in Manhattan, showcasing traditional costumes, dances, music, and martial arts.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the AAPI community has given so much to the city and "this is your way of showing not only your political strength but also it shows you are very, very much part of this fiber of this city."
As part of the Asian immigrants and part of the American people, Chinese immigrants have been contributing all they can to the building of this country and the relationship between China and the United States all these years, said Chinese Consul General in New York Huang Ping.
Before the start of the parade, the participants took a moment of silence for those gunned down in the mass shooting on Saturday in Buffalo, New York State, an attack reportedly related to racist motivations.
"Hate has no place in New York City … We have to deal with the hate in this country, in the state. When we come together and march in a parade, we're also displaying how we accept and respect each other," Adams said.
"In solidarity against anti-Asian hate," reads one banner in the parade.
Huang said he has been saddened by the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes and the daily suffering of Asian Americans, calling for solidarity to stand together against racial discrimination and hate crimes.
"In these pandemic times and with anti-Asian intolerance, division, and hatred on the rise, it is so important for all of us to come together to celebrate our collective humanity — in a rare historic parade — as it is about time that we march together with each other to show our solidarity," said Wellington Z. Chen, executive director of Chinatown Business Improvement District and Chinatown Partnership.
Cultural celebrations with the theme of "Impression of Fujian" were held in Saint Peter's University in Jersey City and John T Gregorio Recreation Center in Linden City.
Participants could have a sip of green tea, learn how to do paper cutting, appreciate Chinese calligraphy and have snacks from China's Fujian Province.
The celebrations in Linden on Saturday drew the participation of Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, teachers and students from Linden High School, as well as local residents.
"Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. But this is not a one-day thing or a one-group thing. We give equal respect throughout the year to all who came from elsewhere, put down their roots, and took a stand that this is where they were going to live and make a home," said Armstead.
Eloy Delgado, who once taught English in Wenzhou City, east China's Zhejiang Province, said, "While we celebrate our great diversity and differences, we learn that the human values of empathy, love and understanding are the components that bind all … of us together."
The United States had 24 million Asian Americans in 2020, including over 5 million Chinese Americans as the largest Asian group, according to the United States Census Bureau.
The celebration of Asian and Pacific American heritage dates back to the 1970s and the month of May was officially designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month in 1992.