By Chicago Tribune
Aurora celebration puts spotlight on Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The event billed as “The Asian American Pacific Islander Celebration - Stop the Hate! Love the Culture!” began at 2 p.m. May 23rd and featured a ribbon cutting that included Mayor Richard Irvin, who together with Eddie Ni, president and CEO of the Windfall Group/Pacifica Square, welcomed eight new businesses to the community.
The event also featured live performances, food and more. Aurora Director of Communications Clayton Muhammad said last year’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month was celebrated online due to the pandemic.
Today, our Asian American population represents about 8% of the city and we have worked to develop an Asian partnership in Aurora,” Muhammad said. “We’re about inclusion and equity here and with the increase in hate crimes lately it’s important we get the message out to stop the hate and love the culture.”
Ni welcomed the new businesses at the development which included A Tasty Hot Pot, Aquarius Gift Shop, Chill’Axe Throwing Sports Bar, Gemini Foot Massage, Jennifer’s Hair Salon, Levee Karaoke, Pho Noodle Station and Value Liquidation Bin.
Ni said Sunday was an important day for two reasons. “There are two important things including this being AAPI month which Asians celebrate the whole month and most of the tenants coming in are from the Asian background – although we welcome, of course, every tenant." Ni said, "Because of the pandemic this is the first time to tell the public we're open".
Aurora Mayor Irvin noted that “Aurora’s strength is our multi-cultural mix of people here in the city” and that “it’s important we celebrate all of our different ethnicities, our cultures, our races, our different religions.” “We need to make this a true melting pot that you hear America being called,” Irvin said. “Aurora has been identified as one of the most culturally diverse cities in America and we want to celebrate that.”
Other government officials including state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, were on hand and spoke about the positive aspects of promoting diversity and new businesses in the area. “I think it’s especially important at this moment in history where we’ve had unfortunately some violence and discrimination against Asians,” Foster said. “My wife is Korean American and so this has always been an element of American society where we feel two ways about immigration. I think it’s very important to see a positive outcome like the jobs being created here and the foreign investment that’s really making this mall spring to life again. For the vast majority – the impact of immigrants on this country is positive.” Kifowit said “embracing all the cultures of Aurora is really important” as well as seeing the emergence of more economic development.
Local residents who came to witness the event like James Qiu of Naperville spoke about both the benefits of having access to Asian products he and others search for in the Chicago area. “It’s very convenient for us as I live five minutes from here and there is a lot of the Asian community living in the west suburbs of Chicago,” Qiu said. “This helps us tremendously. We don’t have to drive 45 minutes downtown. Chinese people love the fresh food and family cooking and we can’t get that from regular stores.”
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