UHart Celebrates Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month

May 03, 2021
Submitted By: Office of Diversity and Community Engagement

May is Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month in the United States. University of Hartford recognizes and pays tribute to the achievements and contributions generations of Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. We have provided you with a wide variety resources that celebrate, honor, and highlight the work and culture of Asian, Asian America, Desi, & Pacific Islander (APIDA) communities.

At this moment in American history, Asian, Desi, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month takes on even more importance. The University of Hartford strongly condemns and denounces the anti-Asian racism communities have been facing, particularly since the beginning of the pandemic. In response to this, A Community Conversation with CT Attorney General William Tong and Professor Na- Rae Kim from the University of Connecticut on how to address anti-Asian xenophobia, racism, and violence. You can view the recording of this program here.

This is a reminder of the importance of learning and celebrating the many historical contributions of the APIDA community both this month, and throughout the year. The University of Hartford’s I-SEE Affinity Group and Asian Student Association are integral parts of our campus community, and we thank them for their work on the campus. Highlights include:

Who is APIDA?
  • East Asians refer to people from China (including Macau and Hong Kong), Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, and Mongolia.
  • South Asians refer to people from the following countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Ethnic groups include Sindhi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, and many others.
  • Southeast Asians refer to people from the following countries and ethnic groups: Burma, Brunei, Cambodia (Khmer, Cham, KhmerLoeu), Indonesia, Laos (Hmong,Lao, Lao Loum, Iu Mien, Khmu, Tai Dam, Tai Leu, and many other ethnic groups), Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Philippines, and Vietnam (Vietnamese, Khmer Kampuchea Krom, Montagnards).
  • Pacific Islanders refer to those whose origins are the original peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Polynesia includes Hawaii (Native Hawaiian), Samoa (Samoan), American Samoa (Samoan), Tokelau (Tokelauan), Tahiti (Tahitian), and Tonga (Tongan). Micronesia includes Guam (Guamanian or Chamorro), Mariana Islands (Mariana Islander), Saipan (Saipanese), Palau (Palauan), Yap (Yapanese), Chuuk (Chuukese), Pohnpei (Pohnpeian), Kosrae (Kosraean), Marshall Islands (Marshallese), and Kiribati (I-Kiribat). Melanesia includes Fiji (Fijian), Papau New Guinea (Papua New Guinean), Solomon Islands (Solomon Islander), and Vanuatu (Ni-Vanuatu).
Historical Overview

“In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage week. The following month, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga from Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed and on October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

 In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend the week-long celebration to a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

 The month of May was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.” - Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS)

Campus Resources
Additional Resources

Smithsonian Asian Pacific Heritage Center

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center serves as a dynamic national resource for discovering why the Asian Pacific American experience matters every day, everywhere, and all of the time. They are a “museum without walls” and present innovative, community-centered museum experiences throughout the United States and beyond. The Smithsonian Asian Pacific Heritage Center offers several different digital exhibits and initiatives, including:

PBS Learning Collection Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Stories that explore the history, traditions and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. 

Ted Talks

The following Ted Talks discuss the Asian American experience and cover issues such as representation in mainstream media, celebrating the Asian American identity and stories, breaking stereotypes, reaffirming stereotypes, the lack of Asian American voices in activism and civic engagement, and more.

12 Ways to Celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Explore the AAPI history, arts, and culture in the United States by Google Arts & Culture

Must Read Books for Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Stories by authors of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage and cultures curated by Penguin Random House.

21 Book, TV, Film And Podcast Suggestions For Asian Americans, By Asian Americans

“To mark APAHM this year, we asked artists, writers and other creators of Asian descent to share one thing they’re currently reading, listening to or watching to counter all the negativity.” – Huffington Post

Supporting the APIDA Community

Stop AAPI Hate

“In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center on March 19, 2020. The center tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Our approach recognizes that in order to effectively address anti-Asian racism we must work to end all forms of structural racism leveled at Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.” – Stop AAPI Hate

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Since 1991, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) has fought for Asian Americans in the national conversations that determine policies that shape lives. Their mission is to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. They provide several resources, including COVID-19 resources for Asian Americans.

68 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian Communities

The Strategist of New York Media has compiled a guide for those interested in supporting Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander communities. They have vetted each organization through their own research and consulted different activists’ and organizations’ lists.

Mental Health Resources for the AAPI Community

Stay Connected on Instagram

  • @stopaapihate
  • @aapiwomenlead
  • @asianamericancollective
  • @asians4antiracism