As a term, “Asian American” has it’s roots in politics. Activists and academics trace its origins back to 1968 and University of California, Berkeley students Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee, who “founded the Asian American Political Alliance as way to unite Japanese, Chinese and Filipino American students on campus.” Today, it’s an identifier that encompasses nearly 21 million Americans who trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East, Southeast, and Southern Asia, each carrying their own unique histories, cultures, languages and traditions.
There is no doubt this was a challenging year that brought some distinct language into focus. As a result of the pandemic, we learned a whole new lexicon. But it was so much more than that. From the tragic murder of George Floyd and the outpouring of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement to an election cycle we will never forget, language has shaped our experience this year more than any other in recent memory.