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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: celebrating our friends in the Asian American, Native Hawiian, and Pacific Islander Community (AAPI)

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The month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. It is the month we formally celebrate and commemorate the vast contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities have made to our Country. The term “Asian/Pacific” encompasses all of the Asian continent and Pacific Islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kirbati, Nauru and the Federates States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tavalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).[1]

            In 1979, at the direction of the United States Congress, President Carter proclaimed the week beginning on May 4, 1979, as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, which was established as a week to provide opportunity for the people of the United States to recognize the history, concerns, contributions, and achievements of Asian and Pacific Americans. In 1992, Congress designated each May as “Asia/Pacific American Heritage Month.” As Congress wrote in this Act, this commemoration celebrates the nearly 8 Million people who were living in the United States who could trace their roots to Asian and the islands of the Pacific and the significant contributions of these Americans to the development of the arts, sciences, government, military, commerce, and education in the United States. [2]

            This month, we take time to pause and reflect on the significant contributions that have been made in our own communities by our friends in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. We also pause to realize that many members of these communities have historically faced discrimination in our communities. Even today, some of our friends in the Asian and Pacific American communities continue to feel the effects of bias (both explicit and implicit) and microaggressions used towards them. Here at IAR, we are taking concrete steps to address this reality and ensure that all people of all backgrounds can be part of the real estate industry, and that housing accessibility and affordability is a reality for everyone. We will continue to review issues affecting each of our minority communities over the coming years. However, more generally, we are taking active steps to increase opportunity for all our minority communities through the following vehicles:

1.    The IAR Diversity Committee

In 2020, the Iowa Association of REALTORS® formed a Diversity Committee. The committee is Chaired by Anthony Lyne, and is comprised of members of many races, genders, backgrounds, and orientations. The committee works to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive association for its members through development of new programs and educational opportunities; works to create an association where the general membership and leadership reflects the diversity of the public we serve; and promotes fair housing and lending practices that will help bridge the homeownership gap in our State. The Diversity Committee seeks to foster an environment where all members feel welcome or empowered to help shape our Association.

2.    Enforcement of the Code of Ethics

The Iowa Association of REALTORS® strictly enforces the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®. The Code prohibits hate speech, epithets, and slurs against members of a protected class. We will hold those responsible who do not live up to our Code.

3.    Implicit Bias and Fairhaven

The National Association of REALTORS® have created robust training tools for our members to utilize, including implicit bias trainings and Fairhaven. The Fairhaven tool is a fair housing simulation training for REALTORS® that uses the power of storytelling to help members identify, prevent, and address discriminatory practices in real estate. We are continually encouraging our members to complete these trainings in an effort to better understand our shortcomings to better serve our clients.

IAR has not been perfect on these issues. However, we are committed to continued learning, growth, and progress. We will continue to take steps to ensure that all of our members feel empowered to shape our industry, and that all who want to purchase a home in our State feel empowered to do so. Finally, let's continue to remember and reflect, even after May is over, on all that the Asian and Pacific American communities have contributed to our Country and to our communities.



[1] https://asianpacificheritage.gov

[2] Public Law 102-450 (102d Congress, 1992)