Text reading May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May 25, 2021

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! AAPI Heritage Month recognizes the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to United States history. 

Asian Americans are defined as individuals from Asian countries who now reside in the United States, and Pacific Islanders are defined as people from the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

History of AAPI Heritage Month

The idea for AAPI Heritage Month was first proposed by a Capitol Hill staffer in the 1970s. It was officially established in 1992. 

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to the U.S. in May of 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May of 1869, which 20,000 Chinese immigrants were pivotal in creating.

Why It’s Important Now More Than Ever

The U.S. Census reports there were 22.6 million Asian residents and 1.6 million Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander residents in the U.S. in 2018. This encompasses 6.8% of Americans.

COVID-19 increased the amount of anti-Asian racism happening in the U.S. In 2020, there were around 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes. It’s important that we work towards ending discrimination and hate. Here are some tangible ways to do that.

Anti-Asian racism is affecting the mental health of the community. The “model minority myth” poses that Asian Americans are often (stereotyped as) more intelligent or accomplished than other groups of people. This can be harmful to Asian Americans for many reasons and can prevent them from seeking mental health care. In fact, AAPI people are the least likely racial group of people in the U.S. to get treatment for mental health These harmful stereotypes are not okay. And, resources are available for those affected. Here is a great article listing mental health resources for AAPI. For Minnesota-specific resources, send us an email at info@guildservices.org and we can get you connected to what you need.

Contributions to the Community

AAPI people have made many contributions to the field of mental health and psychology. In 1972, Derald Sue founded the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) to study and promote the mental health needs of Asian Americans. The AAPA has made many strides throughout the years, including helping to establish ethnically specific mental health services, encouraging the implementation of linguistic and cultural competency in services, and ensuring that AAPI voices were heard in national mental health policy-making. And, that’s just one example! So many more exist and we hope you will join us and take the time to educate yourselves. You can start with What to Read, Watch or Listen to During Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Commit to an Anti-Racist Practice with Guild

Anti-racism refers to an active practice of dismantling racism, systemic oppression, and bias. It’s more than just “not being racist,” it’s about making conscious decisions and acting in ways that help to provide equitable opportunities for people on all levels. If you are new to this language, we encourage you to start your education by reading “How to Be Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi. We also encourage you to join us on our practice by subscribing to our newsletters, where we provide anti-racist resources every month. 



About Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

How One Woman’s Story Led to the Creation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Time.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2020, United States Census Bureau. 

Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans on the Frontlines, New American Economy Research Fund.

There Were 3,800 Anti-Asian Racist Incidents, Mostly Against Women, in the Past Year, NBC News.

Asian American and Pacific Islander, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Our History, The Asian American Psychological Association.

Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health, Mental Health America.

Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, ResearchGate.