May is meant to honor Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage. I think about my heritage throughout the year, and the least I can do is highlight Asian American & Pacific Islander heritage during the month of May.
I’m Chinese-Taiwanese American; my dad is second-generation Chinese and my mom emigrated from Taiwan to the US. I grew up in Washington State and my dad worked at Microsoft for most of my childhood. When he occasionally took me to work with him, I had the innocent thought that many of his coworkers were also Asian American or Pacific Islander. The more I matured throughout the years, the more I saw how integrated those communities were in America.
The AAPI communities continue to contribute to and influence today’s culture, economy, and society in America. There are quite a few achievements that showcase the influence people of AAPI heritage still make today, some being:
The 2020 census estimated that there were 581,200 Asian-owned employer firms and 7,331 Pacific Islander-owned firms in the US.
Companies such as AMD, Google, Zoom, Microsoft, and Adobe currently have Asian Americans as their CEOs.
The USB was invented by Ajay Bhatt, an Indian-born American.
Crazy Rich Asians is the highest-grossing romantic comedy of the last decade.
For me, it can be fulfilling to recognize these accolades from other AAPIs. However, what if your heritage isn’t like mine, how can you connect with Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders?
First, recognize that the AAPI community is integral to life in the US. There are around 24 million Asian Americans and 1.6 Native American and Pacific Islanders in America, according to the 2020 census data. The two communities have impacted and changed our daily life through food, technology, and even sports. To not recognize the importance of the AAPI community would be an injustice at this point because of how much our society benefits from their contributions.
After that, learn about the community’s history. People of the AAPI diaspora have been met with xenophobia, racism, bias, and violence since the start of their history in America. It’s essential to recognize that the diaspora has had its fair share of struggles, like most immigrants, and to think about how we can uplift them.
Lastly, take action. Whether it’s embracing more inclusive business practices, donating to an AAPI charity, or just supporting an immigrant-owned business, action is a significant way that you can connect with the AAPI community. There are many stories to uncover, and even more ways to collaborate with the community than currently exist.
Next time you’re using your Peloton or watching a YouTube video, think about how those things got in front of you. The heritage we honor this month has been, and still is, a major contributor to many pieces of life in America. Find time to learn more about Asian American & Pacific Islanders during this May.
Note: Alex is a member of the Brkthru Diversity & Inclusion Team