AAPI HERITAGE MONTH
WHAT IS AAPI HERITAGE MONTH?
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrates the diversity of cultures, breadth of achievement, and remarkable contributions of these communities; of brave immigrants who, motivated by the promise of possibilities, picked up their lives and found new homes here; of native peoples who have stewarded these lands since time immemorial; and of community leaders shaping a brighter future for us all. May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S. in May 1843 and to mark the transcontinental railroad's completion in May 1869.
LET'S LEARN TOGETHER!
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE AAPI HERITAGE MONTH IF I'M NOT AN AAPI PERSON?
Approximately 16.6 million AAPI individuals reside in the U.S. (Approximately 5.4% of U.S. population). By 2050, AAPIs will make up 9.7% of the total United States population -- over 40 million people. At large, AAPIs represent over 30 countries and ethnic groups that speak over 100 different languages!
The contributions that this community has made to everyone's daily life and culture are often understated or completely ignored. This month is a chance to highlight all of the special ways that AAPI individuals have impacted us.
Only 78 years ago, the U.S. to placed over 127,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps for the duration of WWII. The legacy of racism and disdain still exists today, and its impact is hugely overlooked.
The AAPI community represents the bigger story of who we are as Americans and embodies the truth that our diversity is our strength as a nation.
WHAT ARE SOME ISSUES THE AAPI COMMUNITY FACES?
HARASSMENT, VIOLENCE, AND HATE CRIMES
From March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2021, a total of 10,905 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander persons were reported to the organization Stop AAPI Hate. In 2022, that number has only risen. Many AAPI people don't feel safe walking down the street due to the ongoing harassment and racism they experience, which has only worsened in the wake of the coronvirus epidemic.
Nearly one out of four AAPI students is Limited English Proficient and/or lives in a linguistically isolated household where parents have limited English proficiency. The high school drop-out rate among Southeast Asian Americans is staggering: 40% of Hmong, 38% of Laotian, and 35% of Cambodian populations do not complete high school. Only 14% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders 25 years of age and older have at least a bachelor’s degree in comparison with 27% for the total population and 49% of the AA population.
In a Gallup Poll, 30-31% of AAPIs surveyed reported incidents of employment discrimination, the largest of any group, with African Americans constituting the second largest at 26%.
According to a study undertaken by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, one in five AAPIs experience discrimination in the rental and home buying process. AAPIs have suffered the largest percentage decline in homeownership of any racial group.
SUPPORTING AAPI PEOPLE
There are many ways that you can support the AAPI community this month and beyond, but here are a few ideas:
1) Shop at AAPI-owned businesses.
We put our money where our values are, and supporting AAPI-owned small businesses shows both your ideological and financial support of AAPI individuals.
2) Support AAPI artists and creators.
You can do this by following and sharing their social media accounts, leaving positive reviews on products, and recommending women-created products and artists to your family and friends.
3) Educate yourself on systemic issues such as positive stereotyping, immigration, xenophobia, and intersectionality.
There are lots of great resources out there, and it's important to use them! Rather than expecting AAPI people to teach you about their experience and issues they face, do that work on your own so that they aren't doing extra work in the fight against racism and xenophobia.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE THIS MONTH
There are great events going on around the community where you can learn, engage, and celebrate!
1) Second Annual Asian American and Pacific Islander+ Festival at the Zoo: May 6-7th
In celebration of Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, Denver Zoo is proud to partner with the Filipino-American Community of Colorado to host our second annual Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI+) Festival here at the Zoo! We hope you’ll join us for a day of multicultural dance, music, art, and informative workshops. Together, we will celebrate the diversity of Colorado’s Asian community and the Zoo’s unique connection to Asian cultures and countries through our animals and conservation programs.
2) Explore the virtual exhibit Hisaye Yamamoto: An American Story
This exhibit is focused on the life and legacy of Hisaye Yamamoto, a hugely influential yet often overlooked writer who survived a U.S. internment camp during World War II and went on to inspire countless other Asian American writers.
3) Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month through Music: May 20th
Come on a musical journey with AAPI artists as they share personal insights and stories through song and film. Expect to hear recognizable works from opera and musical theater along with lesser-known gems. Margaret Ozaki Graves is a Japanese American soprano with a doctorate in vocal performance and Japanese aesthetics and music. Special guests include Jerome Sibulo (bass baritone), Kevin Sakai (clarinet) and Jessica Nilles Kressin (piano).
This takes place 3:30-4:30pm at Simpson United Methodist Church in Arvada.