This is The Alligator’s first edition dedicated to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Since former President Barack Obama recognized May to be AAPI month in 2009, the AAPI community has made numerous landmarks across the nation. Most notably, AAPI were named the fastest-growing demographic in the country, growing 81% from 2000 to 2019, from roughly 10.5 million to a record 18.9 million, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
Despite the enormous efforts the community has made to establish its presence, The Alligator has lacked consistent coverage of AAPI people in the Gainesville community. Admittedly, this is the result of an inconsistent amount of AAPI reporters on our staff from semester to semester.
I’ve been on The Alligator for six semesters. I’m Chinese American, and I have been one of the few AAPI staffers for most semesters since 2021.
Covering AAPI issues has been so rewarding and emotional for me. I wrote about local reactions to hate crimes against Asian Americans and the Atlanta spa shootings.
In this paper, we’re highlighting the impact that the AAPI community has had on UF’s campus and in the Gainesville community.
We wrote a story on how one of the first Asian American students enrolled at the university as early as 1915. We also wrote a story about the more than 15 Asian businesses located at the intersection of Southwest 34th Street and Archer Road.
Influential Asian Americans come from Gainesville, too.
Popular Asian food chain Bento Asian Kitchen & Sushi recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the franchise has made its way throughout the state. Bento’s founders Johnny Tung and Jimmy Tung opened their first location on Newberry Road.
In this edition, we wrote about Malini Johar Schueller, who is the only UF professor who teaches Asian American studies. We also wrote about Nathaniel Chan, who is responsible for designing the current and future city plan for Gainesville.
While we are so proud of the coverage we did, we hope this is just the beginning of doing this community justice.
Jiselle Lee is the Editor-In-Chief of The Independent Florida Alligator.
Jiselle Lee is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator’s Summer 2023 Editor-In-Chief. She was previously a reporter with NextShark News and a reporting intern at The Bradenton Herald. In her free time, she loves traveling and going to the beach.