Yuuki N.



Isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the mainland United States, lies a tiny archipelago of islands. For many, its existence is unknown. For me, it’s the place I call home. I grew up on the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands – one of the five territories of the U.S. An island with a long history of colonization from the Spanish to the German to the Japanese and now with indefinite occupation of the U.S. The islands played a pivotal role in the Pacific theater in World War II, now the island continues to play that role in the government’s cold war with China.

I grew up in a diverse Pacific Islander community, with the indigenous CHamoru and Carolinians, as well as a huge Asian American community of Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Bangladesh, and more. Growing up in the NMI has taught me the importance of showing up for the Pacific Islander community as an Asian American – living with an indigenous community whose land is encroached by military interest and economy is dependent on an exploitative tourism industry. There was a lot of organizing done to include Pacific Islanders in the AAPI umbrella, some had their good intentions, while others disagree. But that’s besides the point. We can’t (yet) change how the government assigns papers to our bodies based on our immutable traits. But so long as AA’s and PI’s exist under the AAPI umbrella, Asian Americans must continue to show up and make space for Pacific Islanders who have long been overlooked. For me, showing up for Pacific Islander issues means more than raising awareness. It means intentionally carving out spaces to hear Pacific Islander voices. It means interrogating, “When we say AAPI, are we including PI in the conversation?” It means fighting for environmental conservancy, immigration, human rights, demilitarization, and civil rights. It means fully committing to standing together as AA & PI.