May 2013 Cultural Heritage Recognition

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May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage month. We were in the midst of our customary recognition of cultural heritage months, which we hold every month, when we ran into a wrinkle that we just couldn’t smooth out on our own and we’d like your help.

At West Wind we honor each cultural heritage month recognized by presidential proclamation. We do so in a couple of ways, one of which is to create a special banner each month for our website. In deciding the design of the banners we always look at a variety of images that could represent the group and deliberate which images to use. We take this seriously and really wrestle with the task. Our discussions invariably include the following points of consternation:

  • Are we really okay with choosing one image to represent entire races and ethnicities?
  • Is it awful or acceptable to use the symbols of a culture in our banners? (for example, a menorah in our Jewish-American heritage banner)
  • Who do we include and who gets left out in our choice of images? (think about it– one image representing billions of people of Asian descent)

In the end, we typically surmise that while no choice is perfect, we want to use our website banner to acknowledge cultural heritage months and that imperfect but informed good intention is better than nothing.

This month was different. This month we decided to not decide. Instead we have used only words on our website banner to invite everyone who sees it to recognize, celebrate, observe, and share their words and images in honor of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month.

We’ll be using our social media accounts to recognize each group and provoke thoughtful dialogue. Please consider joining in:

Please keep in mind that this is about honoring cultural heritage. Only positive energy is welcomed here.

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