Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPI) celebrates the achievements the AANHPI community has contributed to this country. From the gold rush of California to Congress, Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders have created lasting impact that has changed the landscape of some areas. My name is Isabella Hong and I am the writer for the May Perspective Issue. I serve as one of the Community Impact Directors at United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley and I’m also a board member for Young Professionals of the Chippewa Valley. I am Asian-American. Specifically, I am a second-generation Cambodian-American. My parents immigrated to California in the 1980s to escape war-torn Cambodia, where millions of Cambodians died in the Khmer Rouge. In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I’ll be sharing the history of AANHPI Heritage Month, Asians in America, and how you can celebrate.
First, what are the countries of Asian and Pacific Islanders? Well, Asia and the Pacific are made up of many ethnic groups. A broad list of ethnic identities of Asians and Pacific Islanders can be found below:
- Central Asians: Afghan, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgians, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek.
- East Asians: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, Taiwanese, Tibetan.
- Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (in the U.S. Jurisdictions & Territories): Carolinian, Chamorro, Chuukese, Fijian, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Kosraean, Marshallesse, Native Hawaiian, Niuean, Palauan, Pohnpeian, Papua New Guinean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan, Yapese.
- Southeast Asians: Bruneian, Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Laotian, Malaysian, Mien, Singaporean, Timorese, Thai, Vietnamese
- South Asians: Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Indian, Maldivians, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan.
- West Asians: This is a contested term, most people from the region do not self-identify as such. West Asia is typically referred to as the Middle East; and geographically includes the countries of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey (straddles Europe and Asia) United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- June 30, 1977: The House of Representatives introduced resolutions to designate the first 10 days in May as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week” while Senator Daniel Inouye also introduced in the Senate to designate the beginning of May as “Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week.” A 4th joint resolution was introduced in the House by Rep. Frank J. Horton and proposed designating 7 days in May beginning on May 4th as Asian/Pacific American Week. This joint resolution was passed by Congress. This law directed the President to issue a proclamation designating the week beginning on May 4, 1979 as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.”
- March 28, 1979: President Carter issued a proclamation for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. In this proclamation, President Carter spoke of the significant role Asian/Pacific Americans have played in the creation of a dynamic and pluralistic American society with their contributions to the sciences, arts, industry, government and commerce.
- May 7, 1990: President George H.W. Bush issued another proclamation designating May 1990 as the first “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”
- May 9, 1990: Congress passed a public law, requested the President, to issue a proclamation which expanded the observance of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week to a month in May 1990. This law called on the people of the United States to observe Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month with “appropriate ceremonies, programs and activities.”
- October 23, 1992: Congress passed a public law which permanently designated May of each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.” Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump have annually issued proclamations designating May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
- April 29, 2022: The Biden-Harris Administration designated May as “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month” to bring broader visibility to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities and their unique needs.
Asians in America
- A People’s History of Asian America: these 4 videos (each video is less than 11 minutes) provide a history of Asian Americans and the microaggressions and stereotypes they’ve faced since arriving in the US—from the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese Internment Camps to Anti-Asian Hate Crimes during the pandemic.
How you can celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:
- Support locally-owned businesses. Find local finds here: https://www.cveiwi.com/aapi-businesses
- Watch a film
- Everything Everywhere All At Once: A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.
- Minari: semi-autobiographical film that follows a South Korean immigrant family who moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream.
- Moana: Disney animated film about a Polynesian teenager setting sail on an adventure to save her people
- The Big Sick: Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family’s expectations, and his true feelings.
- Learn a new recipe
- Visit a virtual museum via Google Arts & Culture
- Know a member of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI)? Ask them out for coffee or tea sometime and learn about their family history. Each person has their own story and would be more than happy to share.
Submitted by Isabella Hong, MSW (she/her/hers | What are Gender Pronouns?)
Community Impact Director