May 25th, 2018
Tiffany’s mother was born in Hong Kong. Her father was born in Vietnam. She is proud to be Chinese, Asian, and American.
Aerica’s mother is Japanese from Kyoto, Japan and her father is Black, from College Station, TX. She identifies as Black and Japanese.
Together, we are the chairs of the Asian Google Network (AGN), whose mission is to support the diverse and multicultural Asian community at Google and beyond. Founded in 2007, AGN is open to all Googlers and provides an annual mentorship program, opportunities for civic and community engagement; leadership development; and curriculum to advance racial justice for all.
We celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month every year in service to that mission. And for the 40th anniversary of AAPI Heritage Month, it was important to us to convey the diversity of the Asian experience in America. For example, Asians at Google trace their roots to more than 20 countries, are multiracial, multiethnic, and speak dozens of languages. And when Asian ethnicities are disaggregated, the data shows that there are wide chasms in access to education, income, and representation. That means that issues that impact AAPIs are broad as well.
As part of this year’s AAPI celebrations, we created an internal curriculum for Googlers on Asian narratives called “We Are Many and One: Gathering Asian Narratives,” where participants share stories and find both common themes and differences within the Asian American Pacific Islander community at Google. Across the country, AGN chapters also put on events for their local communities, such as the exhibit organized by AGN Ann Arbor, which uses timelines, Supreme Court cases, poetry, and the stories of local Googlers to tell the history of Angel Island, the entry point for many Asian immigrants coming to the United States.
To recognize the AAPI community outside of Google, we partnered with Google Expeditions to feature tours of “Hokule'a's Worldwide Voyage” and “Kamehameha: Unification of the Hawaiian Islands.” YouTube created a playlist of AAPI artists. Google Assistant embedded 10 new AAPI facts activated by the question, “Hey Google, what’s up?” And just today, the Doodle team created a Doodle celebrating Chinese-American cinematographer James Wong Howe.
In the spirit of celebrating our diverse community, we also spoke with several members of AGN to hear about why they participate in AGN, what this means to them, and who inspires them.
Why does AGN matter to you?
AGN provides a safe space where Googlers can share more about their own backgrounds, cultures, challenges they face, and help each other excel at Google and outside of Google.
As an American-born child of Vietnamese immigrants, I have the "neither-here-nor-there" feeling of straddling two cultures. I have learned to embrace this state, and it's wonderful to meet fellow Googlers who share the same feelings!
Tell us about your heritage. What makes you proud to be who you are?
I still remain connected with my family's roots in India and make it a point to visit every year. I’m proud that India is a country of many different cultures and people that came together to form an identity. From Bollywood movies and music to colorful curries, elements of Indian culture are becoming popular across the world, and I am proud to share this with people in America and around the world.
I am Native Hawaiian & Japanese, and I am incredibly proud to belong to an indigenous American culture. My father descends from Chief Kahekili, who was the last King of Mau'i until the Hawaiian Islands were unified in 1810. My mother's side brings in Japanese, as her grandparents migrated to Mau'i over 100 years ago for job opportunities following the Islands' agricultural boom.
Who in the AAPI community inspires you?
I have a lot of heroes in the AAPI community—Yuri Kochiyama, Grace Lee Boggs, Helen Zia. They are activists who strived to build coalitions with other communities of color and also give visibility and voice to the issues impacting the AAPI community.
We hope you’ll join us this AAPI History Month in learning more about the AAPI community and working toward a more just and inclusive world.