Honoring the Richness of Asian American and Pacific Islander Cultures
As the month of May unfolds, two specific minority communities across the United States embark on a journey of celebration and recognition. The AAPI Heritage Month, standing for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, is a special period dedicated to honoring and appreciating the diverse cultures, histories, and contribution of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Let’s indulge ourselves in the significance of AAPI Heritage Month 2023 and embrace the richness of AAPI communities.
WHAT DOES AAPI MONTH 2023 ACTUALLY MEAN?
The term ‘AAPI’ is literally one of the most diverse communities that includes an incredible diversity. It encompasses people across roots in South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific Islands, covering a multitude of cultures, languages, religions and traditions. AAPI Heritage Month encourages individuals to explore and appreciate this diversity acknowledging the unique experiences and contributions of different AAPI subgroups. The United Nations states that there are over 30 countries and ethnic groups speaking over 100 different languages.
As far as history tells us, the first Asians arrived in the year 1587, when the Filipinos from the Philippines (then a US colony) arrived in California. Later on, Indians, Chinese, Native Hawaiian, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese and Pacific Islanders arrived in the United States. Thus, the recognition of these minorities was inevitable and required to address various challenges faced by the AAPI community as a whole. However, this month-long celebration also recognizes the community’s contributions to the various aspects of American society, including art, literature, science, technology, sports, politics and more.
ORIGIN OF AAPI MONTH 2023 CELEBRATION
Political representation for the AAPI month came around the 1970s, when the first ten days of May were declared as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week by American Politicians Frank Hortan and Norman Y. Mineta. The month of May was chosen based on the fact that the first Japanese Immigrant arrived in the United States as well as the first transcontinental railroad (completed by Chinese laborers) opened in May.
The month of May was finally recognized as the Asian American and Pacific Islander AAPI Heritage Month in 1991 by then US President George Bush who signed a bill passed by Congress to extend the week-long celebration to an entire month. Later in the year 2009, Barack Obama also signed a presidential proclamation for the AAPI month gaining more cultural importance and widespread celebration.
Lastly, how does one remember that Chinese laborers were behind the construction of the transcontinental railroad or other groundbreaking accomplishments in various scientific and cultural areas? It is the AAPI Heritage Month that offers a safe and celebratory space for individuals from the Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. This AAPI Heritage Month 2023 fosters a more inclusive and equitable society as schools, organizations and various institutions organize events, workshops, and exhibits that aim to raise awareness, encourage discourse, and create spaces for a meaningful future.
ADDRESSING CHALLENGES THROUGH AAPI MONTH
As the AAPI Heritage Month is a time for celebration, it also offers us some time as a reminder of challenges and discrimination faced by the AAPI community. Recent incidents of anti-Asian violence and hate crimes highlight the ongoing struggles against racism and xenophobia. AAPI Month prompts us to stand in solidarity with AAPI individuals and to raise a voice against their challenges.
There has been a drastic surge in Anti-Asian hate crimes in recent years. New York City noted a sharp increase from 30 to 133 anti-Asian hate crimes. San Francisco reached 60 crimes from 9. The Midwest US is far more intolerant towards Asian and Pacific Islanders than both the coastlines. Thus, the significance of AAPI Heritage Month 2023 Celebration has a wider need and impact on the entire American population.
CELEBRATING AAPI MONTH 2023 WITH ONE MINUTE SAREE ®
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