An Important Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month


On the first of May, 2021, Americans will come together to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander legacies by celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month — a month designed to commemorate the obstacles that they faced, as well as the values and cultures they inherited.
The month of May was designated as Asian American Month, as it is a historically significant month for many Asian Americans. In May of 1843, the first ever Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States. Over 20 years later, on May 10th, 1869, the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which was largely constructed by Chinese laborers, was announced.
In 1977, Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta proposed that the first week of May be designated as Asian American Week. In 1990, President George W. Bush proclaimed the entire month of May to be Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Month.
“The Asian American/Pacific Islander heritage month is significant to me because [it] symbolizes the junction of adversities/achievements [that] this [population] has battled through, and [has demonstrated] our unified strength in being capable of fighting against the inequities of this world,” freshman Grace Pak said.
People across the United States will commemorate the importance of May and the difficult challenges Asian Americans faced by hosting virtual parties, listening to inspiring and relevant speakers, and reading stories relating to Asian cultures.
People may also visit their churches, temples or mosques to honor the beauty of being an Asian American.
“During this month, as someone whose religion is Hinduism, we have [our] New Years. We celebrate it by going to the Temple so that [I and others] can appreciate our cultures. We perhaps eat a special food every week or wear a cultural outfit twice a week…[which are] empowering ways [of] embracing your culture,” freshman Rishika Bandi said.
There are many cultures in the Asian community. Attempting to explore new activities associated with these various cultures can help students become more knowledgeable about the community.
Supporting Asian Americans can be as simple as reading books to learn more about the culture, stopping by local Asian restaurants, and purchasing items from small Asian businesses. Students may also speak with Asian friends, teachers, or any other adult to learn more about their perspective of coming to America and the story of how they adapted to a new world.
“Individuals can succor the Asian community by patronizing the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders)-owned businesses, donating to various AAPI organizations, and being courageous to report incidents of harassment or hate crimes when witnessing one,” Pak said.
Students can also show support by attending Stop Asian Hate protests and spreading the word to encourage others to do as well.
“I plan on making some art to commemorate this month and continue attending nearby Stop Asian Hate rallies,” freshman Grace Yi said.
Through the pain and obstacles that Asian Americans are facing currently, a great way to help is by speaking to new peers at school. This will create new friendships and let peers know that comfort is there for them.
Bring along your friends or family and help commemorate the month that honors the contributions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Students can continue to support and raise awareness by protesting, reading, or sharing commemorative posts on their social media platforms.