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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month and this guide celebrates the richness and diversity, the history and cultures of the more than 22.6 million Asian/Pacific Americans.

AAPI FAQs and Origin

What is the difference between “Asian American” and “Asian American and Pacific Islander”? 
"In 1968, the term "Asian American" was coined by Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee and other student activists as a strategic, unifying political identity for Asian ethnic groups to use as they resisted U.S. imperialism in Southeast Asia, and white Americans' use of "Oriental" as a derogatory term for Asians in the United States. By the 1980s, the U.S. Census Bureau grouped persons of Asian ancestry and created the category "Asian Pacific Islander," which continued in the 1990s census. In 2000, "Asian" and "Pacific Islander" became two separate racial categories" (nbcnews.com).
"Eventually, the term “Asian” came to be associated with “what you look like, how your eyes are shaped, your skin tone and your hair texture,” says Ocampo. “When people hear the word ‘Asian,’ they think of certain types of last names that are aligned with Chinese, Korean or Japanese folks (time.com).”
"The term has since been critiqued by scholars who argue that the term does not reflect the experience of Pacific Islanders who have and continue to experience a unique set of struggles relating to sovereignty and decolonization, and do not fit into the model minority stereotype which paints Asian Americans as successful, assimilated into American mainstream, and with “good” cultural values.
More recently, in the post-9/11 era, the term AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian) has emerged as another related identity grouping of distinct communities who have experienced Islamophobia, racial profiling as potential terrorists and other forms of targeted surveillance (nbcnews.com)."


The story behind Asian Pacific American Heritage, and why it's celebrated in May
May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which celebrates the histories of Americans hailing from across the Asian continent and from the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. This year's theme, selected by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council, is "Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration," which builds on a leadership advancement theme series that began last year [2021]. 
Find more of the story at NPR Special Series