Bacon Bits: Invisible No Longer

“We are invisible.” Albemarle County resident Diana Kim, who has Korean ancestry, thinks Virginia public schools don’t teach enough Asian-American history — little beyond the contribution of Chinese laborers to building the trans-continental railroad. Now she’s petitioning the General Assembly to pass legislation requiring more Asian-American history in Virginia schools, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. “The current state is that we are invisible,” says Stewart Kwohm director of the Asian American Education project. “And we need to change that so that we are visible, so that Asian American history is part of American history.”

But wait, what’s this? Virginia Beach will get a new historical marker honoring Filipinos in the U.S. Navy, reports The Virginian-Pilot. Asian and Pacific Islanders, said Governor Ralph Northam, “have made significant contributions to our commonwealth and our country, but too often their stories remain untold.”

And then the Chinese… Yan Huiqing, known to classmates as W.W. Yen, will be honored with a highway historical marker, one of five across the state. Yen was both the first international student and first Chinese student to earn a degree from the University of Virginia — in 1900, reports the Daily Progress.

But there’s more. It turns out that five highway markers have been designated as the result of a May AAPI Heritage Month Historical Marker Contest in Virginia public schools. (AAPI = Asian American Pacific Islander.) Other honorees were Kim Kyusik, a Korean who graduated from Roanoke College in 1903; Arthur Azo Matsu, the first Asian American student to graduate from the College of William & Mary, in 1927; and Vietnamese immigrants in Northern Virginia collectively. (For details read Northam’s press release.)

Maybe there will be a commemorative marker one day to recognize the students and parents who fought for Asian-American rights at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. … But probably not while Northam is governor.