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AAPI HERITAGE MONTH: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

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In May we celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month, in the spirit of AAPI Heritage Month in the US, which celebrates API contributions to culture and history, and recognises the community’s importance to the nation and the world.  

Why May? Well, on May 7th 1843, the first Japanese immigrant, a 14-year-old fisherman named Manjiro, arrived in the US. The transcontinental railroad was also completed on May 10th 1869 – an epic undertaking made possible by thousands of Chinese labourers.  

It began in the 70s with a suggestion by a former congressional staffer, Jeanie Jew, for a AAPI Heritage Week. The first ten days in May subsequently became law in 1978 under President Jimmy Carter. In 1990, George W Bush extended it to a month, which was made official in 1992.  

This year it’s even more important, with the marked increase in aggression against AAPI people – including of course the horrific Atlanta attack in March – in the wake of COVID propaganda. The way to stop this is to understand and respect others, which can only come through education and engagement.  

Asians surpassed Hispanics as the largest immigrant community in the US in 2012, and they are also its fastest growing community. Engaging with AAPI month helps emphasise our common ties while acknowledging our diversity. This year’s theme, Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service, was set by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC). 

How can we all make a difference? Daphne Kwok of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) advises ‘Learn how detrimental the ‘model minority myth’ is to AAPIs; shatter the ‘perpetual foreigner’ image of AAPIs; and reach out and support your AAPI friends, neighbours, and colleagues.’ 

Explore AAPI Heritage 

Learn more with our recommendations. 

  • Minari, a tender and sweeping story about what connects us, Minari follows a Korean American family in search of the American dream in the 1980s. It was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture. South Korean actress Yuh-jung Youn won the Oscar for Best STV upporting Actress. 

  • If you’re in Chicago, the Chicago Japan Film Collective celebrates Japanese film makers with nine films from May 25th-31st. 
  • The Asia Society Texas Center has a wealth of learning resources through its At-Home Adventures Through Asia series; have fun exploring Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. 
  • Find your next must-listen with Mei Qi’s podcasts, from the history of boba to K-dramas and much more.   
  • Join the Virtual Legislative Leadership Summit by the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), from May 11th-13th, where panellists will examine areas from civil rights to the digital divide and Hollywood. 

  • Want to understand the complex history of Asian American violence? The Chinese American Museum in Washington DC and the 1882 Foundation are co-hosting a six-part virtual series entitled Quiet Before: Unearthing Anti-Asian Violence.  
  • ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat is a sitcom that charted the experiences of a Taiwanese-American family, loosely inspired by the life of chef Eddie Huang. When it premiered in 2015, it was the first US network TV sitcom to feature an Asian American family as main characters in over 20 years.  
  • Tune into PBS’s five-hour documentary series telling the stories of a wide range of Asian American people. From Susan Ahn Cuddy, the first Asian woman to enlist in the US Navy, to film star Bruce Lee; check out the interactive gallery for a taster. 
  • Winner of the National Book Awards 2020, Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown is a metafictional satire of the Chinese American experience, hailed by the Washington Post as ‘one of the funniest books of the year.’ 

Ways to show support    

There’s a huge variety of ways you can show your support during AAPI Heritage Month. 

  • Red Canary Song are a grassroots collective supporting labour rights for Asian migrants and sex workers who have no political representation, access to labour rights or collective organising. They also operate in Toronto, Paris and Hong Kong. Donate or get involved here. 
  • Butterfly is a Toronto-based network supporting Asian migrant workers and sex workers. You can make a general donation or pledge to a specific project, from 24/7 hotline services to anti-violence programmes here
  • AAPI Women Lead supports AAPI women and girls with workshops and research, and promotes movements such as #ImReady, which addresses gender-based and racial discrimination and sexual harassment in the community. You can donate here
  • The Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 and protects the civil and legal rights of AAPI communities. It focuses on housing, immigration, labour and employment issues, student advocacy (ASPIRE), civil rights and hate violence, national security and criminal justice reform. Get involved or donate here. 
  • Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) supports environmental justice for working-class and refugee Asian communities ‘to develop an alternative agenda for environmental, social and economic justice.’ Get involved here.   

Want more inspiration and expertise on a wide range of musicculture and how-tos? Check out our deep dive articles for all this and more, plus updates on all our new releases


PRIDE MONTH 2021

June is global Pride Month. From equal rights to intersectionality, transgender politics to progress, dive into stats, social history and celebrations.



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This month, we have everything from heartfelt folk to moody hip hop, maximum drama to summery pop. Plus, there’s comedy, trip hop, and reimagined, remixed classics with hip hop, trap and dance beats.


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