By Sgt. 1st Class Reginald L. Douglass
Installation Equal Opportunity Advisor
Just a thought, could you imagine an action movie without the hero or villain being very well versed in martial arts, not just an above average street brawler? Or perhaps you can imagine growing up without Play-Doh or working without a USB – I can’t. The things I just mentioned are contributions from Asian Americans in our culture, how’s that for a “Did you know?”
Think about the way you picture some of your favorite comic book heroes, the X-Men, Superman, Batman, Punisher, and Fantastic Four; now try to imagine if they did not exist as you currently know them. Jim Lee is currently one of the artists responsible for the images of these superheroes and more in today’s pop culture and one of the most recognizable names in comic books.
Chinese railroad builders in America were some of the first contributors to our modern society, they are the unsung heroes and pioneers who built the Transcontinental Railroads between 1865 and 1869 that connected America and changed the way Americans lived and traveled. The first Chinese were hired in 1865 and were paid approximately $28 per month to do the blasting and laying of ties through the high Sierras. Without the efforts of the Chinese workers in the building of America’s railroads, our development and progress as a nation would have been delayed by many years. Their toil in severe weather, cruel working conditions and for meager wages cannot be under appreciated.
When looking at the multitudes of people we lump into the group we call Asian American and Pacific Islander, I am simply overwhelmed by the diverse cultures and vast contributions throughout the world.
Polynesians were noted craftspeople who built boats without nails. They had no system of writing. Instead, history and traditions were relayed through songs, dance, poems, and stories. For centuries, Pacific Islanders believed that gods controlled their lives. The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” is not a cliché for Pacific Islanders. Children raised in Fiji, Tonga, and Tahiti are taught they are part of an extended family, one that works together for the good of the community. Tongans call this nofo a’kainga, which means everyone counts on one another. Cooperation starts in the home, continues at the village level and on through to the country. Children are taught to respect everyone, especially their elders. Depending on where you look and to whom you look, you can find wonder and inspiration. When I was young I found mine in Bruce Lee not because he could beat people up but because he didn’t want to. Bruce Le was an immigrant who found a way to change not only his fortune but eventually defined how people would look at an entire group, who had originally been disregarded, stereotyped and type casted. Bruce Lee’s influence can still be found in a multitude of things ranging from films, fashion, and philosophies today. Then again it could just be me.