Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by Jacqueline Tran
What Is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
This month, May, is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. But who really celebrates it? No events really take place. Yes, it is briefly acknowledged on Instagram but do we really know what it’s about? What is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
APAHM takes place in May. It is a month to commemorate Asian cultures, history, and their contribution to America. It doesn’t just celebrate asian cultures though, Pacific Islanders are celebrated this month as well. It’s sad to say that Pacific Islanders do not get a lot of recognition. The Pacific Islands are islands in the Pacific Ocean that are categorized into Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia. Pacific Islanders make up 0.5% of the U.S. population, very little to be well known. So yes, hence the name of the celebration, May celebrates the people of the asian continent and the people of Pacific island ancestry.
The History Of How APAHM Became To Be:
In the 1800’s, Chinese pioneers immigrated here to the U.S. to help build The Transcontinental Railroad, which finished in May,1869. Japanese immigrants first came in May, 1843, being the reason why APAHM is in May. The first big wave of asian immigrants was in 1850, seeking labor in America. This was during the California Gold Rush and the building of the Transcontinental Road. Over a hundred years later, in 1977, passed by the U.S. Congress and President Jimmy Carter, a seven-day period in the beginning of May was established as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week due to the significant contribution of asians and pacific islanders in America. This idea of a recognition was introduced by New York Congressman Frank Horton and Congressman of California Norman Mineta. But they weren't the ones who came up with the idea. A former Capitol Hill staffer, Jennie Jew, told Horton that she noticed Asian Americans were not recognized in the public. At the time, Black History Month was being observed and Hispanic Heritage Week was a national celebration. She wanted public awareness of the Asian American contribution in America.
In 1990, President George Bush extended the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration, it became official in 1992. Now, 2020, there are 20 million Asian Americans. There’s such a community for Asian culture in America.
The Celebration of APAHM:
Ever since the announcement of APAHM came out, organizations of Asian Americans came together to put events on for others. Asians and non-asians ate at asian restaurants and attended festivals and events for APAHM. Festivals are held in more populated areas, like Texas, California and New York. Festivals bring out asian culture, they put on parades and perform dances. They sell food from small authentic restaurants to let people try the real authenticity of foreign food. APAHM festivals teach the public the impacts that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders made on America.
If festivals aren’t available near you, some ways to celebrate are:
- Visit an asian cultural center
There are tons of asian cultural centers. They have little celebrations and small gatherings for APAHM, but you can visit them anytime to learn more about Asian cultures.
- Read and research asian/pacific islander impacts on America
By reading this article, you’re celebrating APAHM! There is a lot more background and history behind asian and pacific islander impacts of America. This country would not be the same without them. They helped America develop their country, economy, way of life and much more.
- Research influential people who are asian/pacific islander
Like I said before, tons of asian and pacific islander rub off on America? But who are some of those people? There are so many influencers on the internet. A lot that you might know too. Nikita Dragun is a well known transgender makeup icon, she’s half Vietnamese! Emma Wo is from Hawaii, she was Teen USA in 2008!
- Spread news and information to others
Now that you know what APAHM is and the history behind it, share it with others! You may inspire a chain of people to learn about this month and the cultures behind it. Post it on your Instagram story or tell your friends!
- Ask close asian/pacific islander friends about their history
Ask someone about their family background. Of course, be respectful and ask about their background. Tell them that you’re interested in APAHM. Everyone has a different story to tell about their culture.
- Research foods and games from asia/pacific islands
There are so many diverse recipes for food from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Look on Pinterest to try them! I personally love Korean food like, bulgogi and kimchi soup. I also enjoy foods from my country, Vietnam.
Every Race And Culture Makes America
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a month to celebrate the amazing ways Asians and Pacific Islanders helped and impacted America. This event was meant to spread the awareness of Asian Americans and recognize them and Pacific Islanders. You did your part by reading this article. I hope this will encourage you and others to realize all races work together to build this whole world. This is the reason why we have Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Week and many more cultural celebrations. America is a smoothie of all races and cultures. We should celebrate the individuality of all of them. Asians and Pacific Islanders are recognized this month, May 2020.