Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI Heritage Month) is an annual celebration that recognizes the historical and cultural contributions of individuals and groups of Asian and Pacific Islander descent to the United States. AAPI Heritage Month 2022 will take place from Sunday, May 1 to Tuesday, May 31.
Why the Date of AAPI Heritage Month is Significant
The month of May was chosen for AAPI Heritage Month because it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843. May is also a significant month because it recognizes Golden Spike Day, May 10, 1869, which marks the completion of the transcontinental railroad that was built with significant contributions from Chinese workers.
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.
During World War II, from 1942-1945, people of Japanese descent were incarcerated in internment camps across the nation. In 1982, Chinese American Vincent Chin was murdered by two white men in Detroit because they believed Asians were taking auto industry jobs from whites. In March 2021, a man shot and murdered six women of Asian descent at three spas in the Atlanta area.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, racist and xenophobic rhetoric 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, 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.
AAPI Heritage Month 2022 commemorates the victims of the 2021 spa shootings along with all other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have been lost to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and throughout history.