Every year during the month of May, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is observed in the United States and recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
What is AAPI Heritage?: According to the Asian Pacific Institute, this term includes “all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry, who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.”
The U.S. Census Bureau classifies people of Asian descent as “having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent,” including, but not limited to China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Cambodia, Vietnam or the Philippines.
Pacific Islanders are people who descended from the islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. This classification includes, but is not limited to people from Native Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Guam, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.
The month of May was chosen because it commemorates the migration of the first immigrants from Japan to the United States on May 7, 1843 and to celebrate the completion of the transcontinental railroad by over 20,0000 Asian immigrants on May 10, 1869. However, the first Asian immigrants arrived in the U.S. in 1587 when Filipinos first began migrating to California. Immigrants continued to come from the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands through 1920 when the first Samoans were documented in Hawaii.
AAPI in Colorado: Interested in learning more about AAPI Heritage and ways to support AAPI businesses and initiatives in Colorado? Get connected with the Denver Far East Center!
Far East Center has restaurants, bakeries, a gift shop, a supermarket, a spa, acupuncture, and more! The Far East Center isn’t just a place to go shop, but also a cultural center for the Asian American community in Denver. They promote community events such as celebrations and concerts, endorse certain candidates that they know are looking out for them, and make a major impact in the representation and support of the Asian American community.
The Far East Center recently had a huge win in Denver! They have been pushing for a bill that would recognize the Lunar New Year as an official state holiday. As of May 2nd, the bill has officially passed the Senate and is on its way to Governor Polis’s office to sign!
While May is a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of AAPI individuals, it is also important to address the major issue of violence that specifically affects the AAPI community. The past few years following the onset of the pandemic brought a devastating increase in hateful speech and violence towards Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities throughout the United States.
One incident of anti-AAPI hate is too many, and there were nearly 3800 incidents documented by Stop AAPI Hate between March 2020 and March 2021 alone at the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Anti-AAPI violence and the racist hatred that it comes from continues to threaten and assault BIPOC communities.
One way to help combat this violence and hate is to educate yourself and others and stand in solidarity and support of AAPI individuals and communities. To learn more or report an incident of hate, visit Stop AAPI Hate and check out our blog from last year with some additional links and resources.
Read on below for some more places to read about the history of AAPI Month, activities to participate in, and influential individuals of history for 2023 AAPI Heritage Month:
- The History of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- ASIAN: How You See Me on YouTube
- Denver Far East Center
- National Museum of Asian Art- Smithsonian
- 2023 Colorado Dragon Boat Festival in July
- CU Denver Presents Asian American Pacific Islander History Month Events
- AANHPI Month- Denver Public Library
- 18 Inspiring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
- 175+ Famous Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders [A List of Actors, Athletes, Authors, Activists, Musicians, & More!]
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