The month of celebration has taken on an extra intensity in the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our nation has seen an increase in hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, flamed by false, inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric, some coming from our elected officials. Racist attacks have included harassment, property damage, and violence. Hate crimes destroy lives and devastate families, they traumatize the communities in which they occur, and they are an insult to us all.
Despite the trauma of hate crimes, celebrations of Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions continue across the nation. In Oregon, for example, celebrations extend from OSU movie night to taiko performances to contemporary classical music about Asian Resilience & Joy to street fairs to official proclamations.
Immigrants from Asia and the Pacific and the native people of the Pacific Islands have greatly enriched the history of the United States, and AAPI Month marks and celebrates these contributions. The US State Department says it well: “The U.S. is home to millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, representing a diverse array of cultures and traditions. During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we proudly celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States and pay tribute to the generations who have enriched and strengthened our nation.”
The official designation of AAPI Month in the United States originated in 1977, when members of Congress Frank Horton (NY), Norman Mineta (CA), Daniel Inouye (HA) ,and Spark Matsunaga (HA) introduced bills designating the beginning of May as “Asian/Pacific Heritage Week.” In 1990 the week was extended to a month, and in 2009 the name of the celebration was changed to “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”
As AAPI Month winds down, you can contribute to the celebration and show up for racial justice by supporting one of the worthy organizations listed in our “Support Local Organizations” section.
Resources for AAPI Month:
- Asian American & Pacific Islander Historical Timeline (from Stop AAPI Hate)
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (from Asian-Americans in California)
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Fun Facts (from the US Census Bureau, for all ages)