May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The month-long celebration is a way to acknowledge and highlight the historic achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their undeniable impact on American history.
May is significant to the AAPI community for two reasons. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant arrived in the United States. 20 years later, on May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed, a project that more than 20,000 Chinese workers participated in.
The first Asians documented in the Americas arrived in 1587, when Filipinos arrived in California. 200 years later, the first Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii, with the first official Japanese U.S. immigrant arriving in California at the height of the gold rush in 1843. Immigrants continued to come from Asia and the Pacific Islands in the 1920s when the first Samoans were documented in Hawaii.
Asian Representation in Adoption
The number of international transracial adoption is due to various social, political, and legal factors. Nearly 60% of internationally adopted children between 1970 and 2001 were adopted from Asia (Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2002). Following the Korean War in 1953, there was a large spike in the number of adoptions from South Korea, with more than 100,000 Korean children adopted by families in the United States. Similarly, 80,162 children were adopted by families in the United States from China – over 85% of whom were girls – between 1999 and 2017.
As an international or transracial adoptive parent, recognizing your child’s background, race, and culture is necessary. If your child’s background is of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, addressing and celebrating their background is important and can be helpful in exposing your child to their background, culture, and heritage. During the month of May is a great opportunity to highlight and celebrate Asian Pacific history, personal experiences, stories, and culture. Below are some ways you can celebrate Asian Heritage Month.
Celebrations to Try:
AAPI communities across the country are celebrating the month with several events – primarily virtual – including art exhibits, screening of Asian Pacific Island movies, and webinars/panels that aim to teach people about Asian Pacific culture. Here are some celebration ideas!
Explore AAPI History
This history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is the core of this observance. Media news and networks, such as PBS, have great documentary series about the history of identity, contributions and challenges experienced by Asian Americans. Additionally, there have been an increase of tv shows highlighting Asian Pacific stories and experiences.
Make an Asian Dish
Try making an Asian dish that you might have had before at an Asian restaurant or try a new Asian dish! Whether it is from a family member, friend, acquaintance, or something online, there are many Asian dishes that you can find and make.
Read books with an Asian Pacific author
There are many books written by Asian Pacific authors that explore Asian Pacific experiences, historical events, and share personal stories. The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center has a great list of books to learn about the experiences of Asian Pacific Americans.
Watch a Movie or TV show produced by an Asian creator
Have you seen Korean Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s Academy Award winning movie “Parasite” yet? You should! It is on Hulu. In addition, there are other great Korean movies like “Burning and “Train to Busan”, there are Hollywood films directed by Asian filmmakers like “Crazy Rich Asians”, “The Farewell”, and “Searching”. There are also classic Asian American movies such as “Joy Luck Club”, “Better Luck Tomorrow” and “The Namesake”. These films explore Asian Pacific stories, culture, and experiences.
Discover Art from an Asian Artist
Support a local artist by purchasing their work or check out some of the internationally renowned artworks in your area! You can also check out resources online. The National Gallery of Art has put together a Pinterest board of artwork from Asian Americans.
Support Your Community
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time for all of us. There has been an increase of xenophobia and harassment of members of our Asian communities. Nationally, with all the time being spent at home, we see lots of misinformation and conspiracy theories shared on social media. The stress of this situation DOES NOT justify racism. There are many stereotypes out there, but as a member of your community, showing kindness and support is important. Remember these values and speak up when you see or hear anti-Asian sentiments.
Donate to Support Asian Movements
There are many Asian Pacific organizations that raise awareness about all issues in the Asian Pacific community. Explore Asian Pacific organizations in your local community or globally and donate to show your support for their movement or volunteer to learn more about Asian Pacific experiences. Supporting these organizations will help raise awareness about AAPI experiences, stories, cultures, and issues and is the best way to get involved yourself! Here are some organizations you can donate to: Stop APPI Hate, AAPI Women Lead , Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Gold House .
Whether it is through a family member, friend, acquaintance, or community, it is important to recognize the impact Asian Pacific individuals have had on our immediate, local, national, and global existence.