AAPI Heritage Month: A Message from AAJA President Nicole Dungca

 From far left, AAJA President Nicole Dungca, Joy Moh (The Asian American Foundation), Prisca Bae (TAAF), Annie Wu Henry (Enfranchisement), Weijia Jiang (CBS), Jose Antonio Vargas (Define American), Madalene Mielke (Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies), Brad Jenkins (Enfranchisement), Naomi Tacuyan Underwood (AAJA Executive Director) and Richard Lui (MSNBC) at the inaugural AAPI White House Correspondents Brunch on Saturday, April 29.
Photo c
ourtesy of Leigh Vogel.

AAPI Heritage Month is a special time for AAJA — an entire month dedicated to recognizing our communities always feels like a gift. 

This year, right before AAPI Heritage Month began, we were able to do something different, exhilarating, and long overdue. During the White House Correspondents Dinner weekend, we co-hosted the inaugural Our Voice brunch to celebrate and amplify AAPI storytellers.

There, we heard from CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang, who has become a household name for her crucial work holding the administration accountable.  

“It is so powerful to look around the room and see us,” she said.

She was right, and I know we could all feel it. As I looked out into the crowd, I realized we were all doing what so many AAPI leaders have done for decades. We were creating a space for our communities, our successes, our stories.

I’m five months into being AAJA president, and I couldn’t be prouder of our leadership and our AAJA community. This month, we rolled out our AAJA Journalism Excellence Awards, recognizing the most powerful pieces of journalism published by our members last year. 

Just last week in Singapore, AAJA’s Asia chapter completed their thirteenth N3Con. Attendees heard and learned from top journalists in Asia, including the indomitable Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa. The co-founder and CEO of Rappler reminded us that more journalists are integral in a world where journalism is under attack, and disinformation spreads like wildfire.

It’s a good reminder that more work lies ahead. In July, we’ll be holding our annual convention in Washington, D.C. Our theme, “Building Our Collective Power,” is an acknowledgment that harnessing that power is critical to our mission as we diversify newsrooms and improve coverage of AAPI communities. We’ve come so far in many ways – our organization has grown and newsrooms have more top AAPI leaders and executives – but we know it’s not enough.

But this month, let’s remember how much we’ve accomplished, and how you’ve all been part of it. Our members and allies — especially those who step up to lead our chapters, affinity groups, conventions, and signature programs — are the reason why AAJA is so strong, and why we have so much to celebrate.

Everything counts towards building our community: the dim sum brunches, the Zoom training sessions, the marathon fundraisers, the alliances being built among fellow journalists of color. All over the world, we’re building on the leadership from those who blazed the trail before us – and making those spaces that didn’t exist before.

As this heritage month comes to a close, stand proud. Keep doing what you’re doing. And keep celebrating our communities all year long.

– Nicole Dungca

President, AAJA

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