08:45 AM

AAPI Heritage Month: Taking Pride In Who We Are


By Dr. Toni Hoang

You may know me as Dr. Toni Hoang, Associate Professor of Communication Studies. I am also a proud Filipina and Thai woman of immigrant parents, mother, wife, family caregiver, native Houstonian, and UHD Alumna (Class of ‘99).

My family and my Asian and Pacific Islander heritage come first in everything I do and in everything I am.

I am excited to celebrate and share my heritage at UHD. Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Gators bring a rich history to the University through their stories and struggles—told and untold, which are intricately woven into the fabric of UHD. AAPI Gators add to the vigor and diversity of our University. As a person of color, I have an immense connection with UHD students, faculty, and staff. Sharing my heritage with others of different races and cultural backgrounds at UHD has been personally rewarding, and it adds to UHD’s legacy as a nationally recognized leader in diversity, inclusion and academic achievement.

Across the city and for many decades, the AAPI community contributes to the vitality of Houston making it the most diverse city in the country. The impact on cuisine and dining experiences, arts and culture, events and festivals, and small business ownership has changed Houston’s landscape socially, culturally, and economically. Even when visiting a new place, the sights, sounds, smells, and smiles are instantly familiar and connect me to generations before me.

At home, honoring my AAPI heritage is extremely important in the ways we pass down our family’s stories and cultural traditions. We also enjoy learning about others by reading Asian children’s literature. We revel in the characters and illustrations on the pages. The books promote Asian representation by featuring characters of Asian and black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) identities, and they are powerful exemplars of love, beauty, strength, diversity and cultural pride.

Unity and compassion for one another is essential to living in harmony. In recognition of stopping the hate against my fellow AAPI countrymen and women, our nation witnessed the signing of the first law in response to attacks on people of Asian descent. This law is the first of many steps on the path of healing and allyship, where we engage in empowering others and remind them of their own agency to dismantle oppressive systems for the benefit of all.

This responsibility belongs to all of us.