Yelm Council Makes May Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

By Daniel Warn / For The Nisqually Valley News
Posted 5/17/22

The Yelm City Council passed a proclamation to declare May Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at its May 10 meeting.

Mayor Joe DePinto said the proclamation hits on a personal note …

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Yelm Council Makes May Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

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The Yelm City Council passed a proclamation to declare May Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at its May 10 meeting.

Mayor Joe DePinto said the proclamation hits on a personal note for him, due to his Korean heritage.

“Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is observed during the month of May to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI persons as part of the whole history, culture and achievements of the United States,” DePinto read from the proclamation.

AAPI Heritage in the United States was celebrated at least as early as 1978. It was officially made into a national month-long event in 1992, according to the resolution.

“During AAPI Heritage Month, we acknowledge AAPI persons have lived and worked in the United States for more than 200 years, and have made significant contributions to all facets of the United States such as economy, culture, education, politics, arts, law enforcement, military, literature, science and technological developments despite institutional and systemic injustices designed to silence and cover up these achievements and contributions,” DePinto read from the proclamation.

After DePinto finished reading the proclamation, which was passed in the consent agenda, Councilmember James Blair asked DePinto who writes the council’s proclamations. In answer, the mayor said he models them off the state’s proclamations.

“I’m definitely not on board with anything talking about systemic challenges to people, especially here,” Blair said. “I don’t know about you guys, but there is nothing stopping anyone from becoming anything they want to be in this town, regarding their skin color, nationality or anything like that.”



DePinto took a moment to explain himself and his process in choosing the council’s proclamations.

“If it is a little too political than it should be, I try to steer away from those,” DePinto said. “We can also do mayoral proclamations as well, where I’ll just make the proclamation for myself and leave the council out of it, if the council so chooses to do that, too.”

Blair reiterated that skin color is no barrier to any Yelm resident’s success.

“I don’t think we should sign on to basically agreeing that anyone has any barriers due to their skin color or nationality. Sorry, there’s no one in this town that’s going to be stopped from pursuing whatever they want to do in life because of the color of their skin or where they were born or any of that,” Blair said. “I’m about tired of hearing it.”

After DePinto explained that he thought it was important to recognize things of that nature happened in the past, Blair agreed they have happened historically, but said they were not at play today.

Councilmember Line Roy took a moment to clarify whether the council believed the same thing as Blair.

“I just would really like to make it clear that it is not the thoughts of the entire council that there’s not systemic racism in place,” Roy said.

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