It’s May - which means it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, an annual US celebration of the historical and cultural contributions of people of AAPI descent. AAPI is defined as cultures from all across Asia, including East, Southeast, and South Asia, as well as the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. The month of May was chosen as AAPI Heritage Month because it commemorates the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843. Later, others of AAPI descent arrived in the United States; the Japanese in the 1580’s, Chinese in the 1770’s and the first Koreans in the 1880’s. In the 1900’s Samoans and Vietnamese also emigrated to the US.
There are currently over 30 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States, accounting for over 10% of the overall U.S. population. This number is expected to increase significantly over the coming decades.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, have not traditionally been featured in our history books although they have made major contributions to many aspects of American culture and society, including science and medicine, literature and art, sports and recreation, government and politics, activism, and the law. Some examples of well known Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders making a meaningful difference in the US are mentioned below:
So get involved and help celebrate our nation’s diversity and AAPI Heritage Month! Learn about AAPI history. Read books with AAPI connections. Cook a new recipe and serve up some yummy dish from India, Hawaii or Thailand. Explore some Asian/Pacific music or art. Trace your AAPI roots and share your personal heritage, or celebrate a friend’s.