City Council Member Shahana Hanif Joins John Jay to Celebrate AAPI Month

City Council Member Shahana Hanif Joins John Jay to Celebrate AAPI Month

City Council Member Shahana Hanif Joins John Jay to Celebrate AAPI Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we’re delighted to welcome the Honorable Shahana Hanif, New York City Council Member, on Wednesday, May 11 at 1:40-2:50 p.m. As a part of our Emerging Leaders of Justice series, Hanif is looking forward to discussing issues such as immigrant rights, gender justice, and economic inequality. “It’s an honor to have this conversation with Council Member Hanif,” says Distinguished Professor Kevin Nadal, Ph.D., who will facilitate the discussion. “Not just because she is the first Muslim woman elected to New York City Council, but because I always look forward to hearing the story of another Brown Asian American child of immigrants accomplishing what we are often taught is impossible.” We spoke with Shivanie Hariram ’24 and Amy Zou ’24, who are tasked with asking her questions during the event.

What do you hope to learn from Council Member Hanif?

Shivanie Hariram: I hope to learn about the journey Councilwoman Hanif has experienced and what continues to drive her within the political field. As a political science major, first-generation college student, woman of color, and child of immigrants, I’m interested in following in her footsteps in some capacity. I have the utmost gratitude for the Councilwoman’s representation in the AAPI community. Individuals like Councilwoman Hanif inspire students like me to keep working toward our goals.

Shivanie Hariram
Shivanie Hariram

“I have the utmost gratitude for the Councilwoman’s representation in the AAPI community. Individuals like Councilwoman Hanif inspire students like me to keep working toward our goals.” —Shivanie Hariram ’24

Why is it important to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month and how do you celebrate it?

Amy Zou: It is important for me, especially as an Asian American, to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month because it is an integral part of my identity. Growing up, I was ashamed of my culture and identity as a Chinese American. In elementary school, people would use the term F.O.B., or fresh off the boat, to make fun of other Asian students who immigrated to the U.S. I felt like I had to tell people that even though my parents were from China, I was born here. I distinctly remember being made fun of for the ethnic dishes that my mother made me and I brought to school.

Amy Zou
Amy Zou

“Being culturally responsive and inclusive begins by demonstrating awareness pertaining to issues that affect marginalized groups and supporting these groups.” —Amy Zou ’24

Being culturally responsive and inclusive begins by demonstrating awareness pertaining to issues that affect marginalized groups and supporting these groups. This support may come from celebrating and honoring diverse cultures, traditions, and histories. But before I can look towards others to recognize and celebrate my heritage, I have to embrace it myself. During AAPI Heritage Month, I hope to not only celebrate my own culture, but also be as inclusive as I can to other Asian ethnicities and cultures. I want to spread awareness of AAPI Heritage Month and encourage others to celebrate it with me.