During the past few months, we’ve seen a rise in hate crimes in the U.S. and around the world. The FBI released data in late 2020 showing hate crimes in America rose to the highest level in more than a decade. The Oxford dictionary defines hate crimes as ones motivated by prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds. We’ve seen countless stories in the news lately where people from all backgrounds were targeted for simply being who they are.
As an organization founded due to discrimination, it behooves us to speak out. AAHOA was created in 1989 in response to Asian American hoteliers facing discrimination within the industry, specifically from insurance companies and banks. Despite these barriers and obstacles, AAHOA and its founding leaders helped launch its member hoteliers to a new level of economic success.
Years ago, in 2003, at my first AAHOACON in Long Beach, CA, I remember meeting hundreds, if not thousands, of AAHOA Members. Many of them took me under their wing and helped guide me as I navigated the hospitality field. AAHOA Members have played a huge role in my life and early on in my career. Many have told me what my peers haven’t done or haven’t done well. Not only did we build professional networks together, but we became lifelong friends.
It’s hard to imagine that not long ago, the generations before them were not afforded that same guidance because of prejudices. And it’s a shame that in 2021 we’re still seeing people suffer for their uniqueness, but I see these statistics as an opportunity. We cannot, and will not, accept a culture of silence. The time is now for AAHOA to give back and make a difference. It’s obvious how far we’ve come as an association, but if the FBI’s data teaches us anything, it’s that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to addressing hate and discrimination in America.
Much of my success can be attributed to my connections with members early on in my career. Now, I want to return the favor. AAHOA is truly an example of the American Dream; we have a rich history of persevering. I’m committed to being accessible, listening to your stories, and doing the right thing. I’m looking forward to reconnecting and leading the way, proving AAHOA is a leader in the industry, and beyond.
Throughout my first month as Interim President & CEO of AAHOA, I traveled all over the country and met and connected with members at industry events and AAHOA Town Halls. With AAHOACON21 just days away, the first in-person convention since 2019, it’s a chance for us all to reconvene with friends, old and new. It’s time to network, learn, and get inspired. Now is my chance to do for AAHOA Members what they once did for me, and I am committed to that.
When one group is targeted, we’re all targeted. AAHOA’s familiarity with discrimination makes us more empathetic and understanding to the needs of our members and the hoteliers we serve. If thousands of people congregating at AAHOACON21 is a testament to anything, it’s a symbol for all the success and the strong will of those who had to overcome difficult obstacles and break through discriminatory conditions.
See you there.