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City of Jackson dedicates tree to Asian American and Pacific Islander community

 Jackson residents stand in front of Cherry Blossom tree at Elnora Moorman Plaza.
City of Jackson
Jackson residents stand in front of a newly dedicated cherry blossom tree at Elnora Moorman Plaza.

The city of Jackson is honoring its local Asian American and Pacific Islander community with a tree dedication. A ceremony was held Tuesday, the last day of AAPI Heritage Month.

A young cherry blossom tree now stands at Elnora Moorman Plaza.

For Jackson Community College Asian/Pacific Islander Affinity Liaison, Ai Yoshida, it’s a symbol of the rich history and culture Asian Americans bring to Jackson.

Yoshida proposed the idea of a tree dedication to Jackson’s mayor following last year’s surge in racially motivated hate crimes toward Asian Americans.

“Education is going to be the best antidote for hate. So I know this is a baby step, but it's going to be a great opportunity to educate the community members," she explained.

In March 2020, Former U.S. President Donald Trump referred to COVID-19 as the "Chinese Virus."

Research from the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism finds that in the first quarter of 2021, the United States saw a 164% increase in hate crimes towards Asian Americans compared to the same time the year before.

Yoshida says Michigan also saw anti-Asian sentiment rise since the pandemic began in 2020.

"I teach Japanese to students in Battle Creek ... so when the pandemic happened, I heard a couple of my students share that their classmates joked about the pandemic being Asian people's fault," she said.

Yoshida says she’s looking forward to the ways the tree will serve as a symbol of belonging for the Asian American community.

"The hope is this tree inspires all of us, all the community members, to celebrate diversity and value our differences and also unique experiences," she said.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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