Happy AAPI Heritage Month: Interview with two AAPI organizations

Written by: Sarah Chase


Questions:


1. What is the history behind AAPI Heritage month?


2. What is celebrated during AAPI Heritage month?


3. How can those not of Asian descent celebrate and be an ally during Asian Heritage month?


4. What are some ways people might celebrate Asian Heritage Month?


5. Why is it important to celebrate Asian Heritage Month?


Amplify Asian Voices


1. What is the history behind AAPI Heritage month?

The founding of AAPI Heritage month can be credited to Jeanie Jew, a former congressional staffer who approached Representative Frank Horton in the 1970s with the idea. Then in 1977 he along with Norman Y. Mineta introduced the idea of reserving the first ten days of May for Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. May was chosen because in May of 1843 the first Japanese immigrant was documented in the U.S. and then in 1869 the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. In 1990 George H.W. Bush signed a bill passed by congress to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month and was officially designated as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.


2. What is celebrated during AAPI Heritage month?

During AAPI Heritage Month, the diversity and culture of the AAPI community is celebrated in many different mediums! The accomplishments and contributions that the AAPI community has made in America, like their work in the First Transcontinental Railroad is recognized. It’s also a period of time to reflect on how Asian history is often overlooked, and the discrimination that’s faced being Asian American, especially since the pandemic.


3. How can those not of Asian descent celebrate and be an ally during Asian Heritage month?

Those of non-Asian descent can definitely celebrate and be ally in so many different ways! They can start investing in AAPI-owned businesses, especially small ones, invest in AAPI media (art, television, film, books etc.) and research about Asian history. There’s a lot of virtual art galleries, museums, books, and documentaries you can invest yourself in. If you are going to participate in Asian festivities though, make sure you know the history/cultural significance and understand the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation! One of the biggest things you can do to celebrate such an important month for the AAPI community is unlearning preexisting stereotypes of Asian individuals. This pandemic has brought up so much resenting hatred and bigotry toward the AAPI community, so unlearning negative notions of the community is a great first step in celebrating AAPI Heritage month and be an ally!


4. What are some ways people might celebrate Asian Heritage Month?

Some ways people might celebrate AAPI Heritage month is probably trying to get back into their culture, learn about different Asian countries, appreciating their ancestors, and more! They might also support their local Asian businesses, donating to Asian NPOs, and support smaller Asian creators.

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5. Why is it important to celebrate Asian Heritage Month?

It is so so important to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month because for years Asians have made such important contributions to society but still in this day and age are being attacked. This was most evident thanks to the pandemic and with the Atlanta spa shootings. Solidarity with the AAPI community is one of the most important things we need at the moment. News cycles may move on to the next controversial topic, but what has conspired in 2021 and 2020 will continue to affect the AAPI community. Underneath the rubble of Asian discrimination, hate, and stereotypes are years of culture, accomplishments, history, and people that have been overlooked and it’s about time we start recognizing that and celebrating it.


Asian American PSU


1. AAPI heritage month is celebrated on the month of May to recognize the history of AAPI members and their contributions towards America. The reasons why we celebrate it on the month of May are because the first Japanese immigrant arrived in May of 1843 and on May 10, 1869, the golden spike was driven into the first transcontinental railway that was predominately built by Chinese laborers


2. During AAPIHM, the various cultures within the AAPI groups are celebrated and honored. The achievements of the American society made possible by the AAPI members are remembered, honored, and admired. In school settings, students are being taught the history of Asian-Americans and now, have the opportunity to engage in dialogue amongst their peers. Cities honor AAPIHM by hosting cultural events that feature traditional dances, foods, music, and art.


3. The best thing an ally can do is to learn and recognize the history of AAPI members. Support us by recognizing us, our stories, and our heritage.


4.(Answered with 4)


5. AAPIHM highlights the oppression, achievements, and growth of our community. There’s been so many myths about our communities such as the infamous Model Minority Myth. AAPIHM raises awareness about who we are and what we’ve gone through/are going through—it helps dispel those myths. This month is about the culture, the history, and the accomplishments of the AAPI population.


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