After seeing what can happen when people are divided and disengaged, Abraham started bridging those gaps in his Korean American community. He reflects on how far they’ve come and what still needs to be done.

One of the challenges we face as Asian Americans is that our immigration history goes back more than a hundred years. Our forefathers immigrated here many decades ago, and many of us were born here. Yet, when people see an Asian face, they assume that we are foreigners or have allegiance to other countries.

We are all actively engaged in building a better society in this country.

Asian Americans are often perceived as a highly successful group, but that image masks many of the challenges and hardships that our community faces. We have a huge elderly population that lives close to or below the poverty level without proper healthcare. At all education levels, Asian Americans are paid less than their counterparts.

I think it is important to understand that there are similarities and differences between the various Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The AAPI community is not a monolith and is diverse.

We share common experiences coming as immigrants to the United States and pursuing opportunities that freedom, hard work, and a diverse society offer. However, each community has differing cultures, languages, history, and circumstances why immigration occurred. I think appreciating these underlying cultures and the dynamics between communities is important to serving the AAPI communities. Each community’s unique voice offers richness to the United States.

One thing I admire about the Korean American and Asian American communities is the resilience and grit of our people. Despite challenges and hardship, our people have sacrificed and survived through it all. We are a community that cares for one another and strives to innovate, prosper, and give back.

The recent violence has confirmed the important work of advocacy, education, and bridge-building that we do as an organization. It has also shifted our focus to areas that we need to address within our own community.

Read the full article about understanding the AAPI community by Abraham Kim at GlobalGiving.