Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month is observed each May to celebrate the contributions that generations of AAPIs have made to American history, society, and culture.
The AAPI umbrella term includes cultures from the entire Asian continent – including East, Southeast, and South Asia – and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. As of 2019, there were about 22.9 million people of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the United States.
Since their immigration to the United States, Asians have been met with xenophobia, racism, bias, and violence. Chinese workers were abused, robbed, and murdered in San Francisco in the 1850s. In 1854, the California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Hall that people of Asian descent could not testify against a white person in court, meaning that white people could avoid punishment for anti-Asian crimes.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, racist and xenophobic hate speech about the origins of the virus led to a spike in anti-Asian racism and violence, with AAPI people of all ages and cultures being verbally and physically harassed and murdered in cities across the United States. As a response to the rise in anti-Asian violence, the AAPI Equity Alliance, the Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate coalition on March 19, 2020. The coalition tracks and responds to violence, hate, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and bullying of AAPI people.
According to the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), the theme for AAPI Heritage Month 2022 is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” The FAPAC encourages local and national governments to prioritize collaboration, development, diversity, transparency, and inclusion through leadership training of AAPI people.