Lunar New Year and Black History Month: Honoring Heritage, Embracing Hope

With Lunar New Year and Black History Month in the U.S. occurring at the beginning of the calendar year, Workmates share how these observances are inspiring new year intentions and a renewed sense of solidarity.

Lunar New Year and Black History Month in the U.S. happen at the beginning of the calendar year, a cyclical marker that prompts reflection and a focus on setting new intentions. Hear from Workmates about what these annual observances mean to them and their resolutions moving forward, and how these celebrations inspire a renewed sense of solidarity for Asian and Black communities.

Year of the Tiger: Embracing Strength, Boldness, and Bravery

Christina Chen is a search product manager at Workday and the membership engagement lead with the East Asian Employee Belonging Council (EBC):

Following the Year of the Rat (2020)—which begins the zodiac cycle—and the Year of the Ox (2021), the Year of the Tiger brings an interesting new dynamic. The symbolism associated with the tiger is strength, bravery, and authority, all of which bring renewed vitality to my personal and professional life. My hope is that the Year of the Tiger inspires everyone to shed their imposter syndrome, pursue their goals with passion, and push to be heard and respected.

Jennifer Wong is a director of product management:

Looking forward to 2022, there are still a lot of unknowns: COVID-19 variants, global warming, natural disasters, political struggles—you name it. But the symbol of the tiger calls for all of us to be brave in facing the unknowns. Bravery also means having the courage to ask for help. It’s common for people to hide their weaknesses in fear of how they may be perceived. May the Year of the Tiger inspire us to be brave in recognizing when we need support and having the courage to ask for it.

Celebrating Lunar New Year With a Markedly Different Feel 

Wong: Last year amid the rise of anti-Asian attacks, I celebrated Lunar New Year in fear. Are we safe to go to Chinatown to buy decorations for the celebration? Am I safe to run alone outdoors? Will people judge if I speak Chinese in public? Then in the months following, the communal rallying in the Stop Asian Hate movement called out the tiger in me. It instilled in me the bravery to be proud of our culture and values. I also noticed an increased interest among non-Asians to learn more about our culture, and I took the opportunity to share more about other Asian cultural celebrations, such as the Mid-Autumn Festival and Winter Solstice. This year, I am going to teach my teammates how to make a traditional Chinese dessert, tang yuan, at our team’s Lunar New Year celebration. I cannot be more proud to share my culture with others.

Lily Tse is a senior global integrated marketing manager:

The rise in anti-Asian attacks last year has actually brought me closer to my Asian roots and community, and I definitely see a heightened interest in sharing the Lunar New Year tradition with my kids and community. When an attack is about you (your ethnicity, your belief, your values), it feels very personal. But instead of letting that feeling take you down, let it spark a desire to take these emotions and do something powerful with them and serve others. 

"I hope we improve the present through learning about our diverse past and moving to a collective future."

Preston L. Harden Senior Program Manager and an Atlanta Pillar Lead of the Black @ Workday EBC Workday

What to Know About Lunar New Year 

Chen: Lunar New Year is a time of celebration with family and friends, typically lasting two weeks. A misconception is that it’s a one-day holiday or a celebration that lasts a month. Another big misconception is that only Chinese people celebrate Lunar New Year! Many East and Southeast Asian countries celebrate Lunar New Year and hold different traditions. 

Tse: Lunar New Year is really a new start for us—getting rid of negative energy coming from negative thinking, situations, or behaviors that occurred in the previous year and energetically resetting our minds and tuning ourselves with the strengths and attributes of the zodiac animal. And, it’s a time to be with your loved ones to welcome a fresh start together.

Black History Month: Celebrating Contributions, Achievements, and the Way Forward

Preston L. Harden is a senior program manager at Workday and an Atlanta pillar lead of the Black @ Workday EBC:

The significance of history expands far beyond the milestones emphasized in textbooks. When harnessed thoughtfully, history is the gateway to asking productive questions that propel us to think differently and find a way to move forward. That’s the impact of Black History Month: seeing how Black narratives are tightly woven and integrated into the narrative of the United States and worldwide creates greater understanding of why Black history is important every day. For Black History Month, our Black @ Workday EBC will continue to share the legacy of Black people—our rich history, our resilience, our contributions, and our achievements, including the forgotten faces of Black history and their positive impact on the history of this country. Our Black History Month programs and events—which include external speakers such as American civil rights leader Xernona Clayton and Emmy Award-winning poet Hank Stewart, and discussion on topics of financial wellness and Black health disparities—are designed to educate, enrich, and empower all communities.  

Pamela Brown is a senior consultant:

“This year was hard” was the first sentence on my Christmas card. A year into a global pandemic, racial injustices—coupled with personal challenges—compounded one another. My card went on to highlight my personal highs, which prepared me for my focus for 2022: being intentional in everything, prioritizing self-care, and finding ways to make a positive impact in my work and community. Going into Black History Month this year, I’m feeling more hopeful, yet keenly aware there is work to do to get to a place where Black history is embraced and celebrated every day.

Commitment to Progress, Perseverance Is the Living Narrative of Black History  

Kosheno Moore is a manager of customer experience communications:

It can take generations to make changes toward progress, and I am only a tiny part of this puzzle. My ancestors gave me the ultimate gift of love through their own experiences, decisions, and sacrifices. They even gave me perspectives they didn’t have in their own lifetimes so that I can uniquely contribute to writing the future Black narrative free of trauma and suffering, and instead, inclusion of our full humanity and honoring of our civil liberty.

"My hope is that the Year of the Tiger inspires everyone to shed their imposter syndrome, pursue their goals with passion, and push to be heard and respected."

Christina Chen Search Product Manager and Membership Engagement Lead of the East Asian EBC Workday

Brown: When I think about Black history and the living narrative, I think of being able to triumph in the midst of struggle. Persevere and be undeterred in spite of racial discrimination. Aspire to greatness and add value to those around me. Lift up and promote those around me working to do the same.    

Lifting Each Other and Celebrating Through Stories of Hope

Harden: My hope is that this year and every year these thought-provoking events and conversations extend beyond February, igniting an ongoing quest for understanding and growth—the kind of growth that often only occurs through interpersonal dialogue with measurable actions. I hope we seek out ongoing opportunities for more informal conversations with those around us regardless of color, social status, or origin. This month and every month, I hope we better ourselves through learning about others and sharing our own stories. I hope we improve the present through learning about our diverse past and moving to a collective future.

Moore: The past couple of years have been an unprecedented time for me to reflect and listen with an open mind and heart to what is being surfaced and resisted around racial issues across our diverse heritage. As a communicator by profession, I feel there are opportunities to create and amplify compelling stories that will be rewarding for those sharing their experiences, as well as edifying for those learning from them. By sharing experiences and inviting curiosity through mindful storytelling, I think we can foster meaningful connections, which in turn can enhance our sense of community and belonging here at Workday.

Black-Asian Solidarity in the Face of Discrimination 

After our Workmates weighed in on what Lunar New Year and Black History Month meant to them, we asked them for their thoughts on Black-Asian solidarity during these difficult times.

Workmate Christina Chen at a Black Lives Matter march in 2020. Photo taken by Esmond Ye.

Wong: The discrimination experienced by Black and Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic brought heightened awareness to situations that have long been brushed aside. But these events fueled our Black and Asian communities to step up and be proud of our heritages, and also encouraged learning and respect across cultures. It’s been refreshing to see how having intentional conversations improves understanding and breaks down barriers. 

Harden: With the global outbreak of COVID-19, we have witnessed a multitude of inequalities for underrepresented people: Black communities experienced disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 and death due to factors related to social and economic inequality, and Asian communities are experiencing an alarming rise of xenophobic harassment and violence motivated by pandemic-related prejudices. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In short, I think this means we all must fight for the dignity and rights of all humans regardless of nationality, gender, color, religion, language, origin, or any status. The principles of equality and nondiscrimination are at the heart of human rights, and it’s more pressing than ever that communities of color are unified and are in solidarity together along with our allies. 

Moore: As a mother who identifies as Black-Japanese, all that transpired during the past four years has been extremely personal for my family and me. And I would invite others to consider the actions I’ve taken to show solidarity across communities as possible examples: listen carefully to understand the struggle as perceived and felt by those who are most impacted, because they are the ones living with the pain that I may or may not be experiencing. Then assess the climate, environment, institutions, and intentions in which the struggle arose. Finally, act, comfort, speak up, rally, and advocate. 

I think the key is to show up for other communities from a place of empathy and humility built on a common foundation, which is our humanity.

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