Pyn • Holidays and Observances

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Here’s how to celebrate this observance.

⚠️ Pyn note to HR: Update this message to reflect any events being held or actions being taken by your organization. 

What is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrates Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. every May. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the U.S. in May of 1843. It also marks the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad's completion, which Chinese immigrants finished building in May of 1869.

The origin of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month can be traced back to 1977, when resolutions were introduced to proclaim the first ten days in May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week. Eventually, a resolution was passed and signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Over the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990, when the observance was extended to an entire month. 

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month programming

We’re excited to host events that celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of the Asian Pacific American communities! Here’s what’s happening over the next month:  

  • [Insert event]
  • [Insert event]
  • [Insert event]

Ways to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month 

Recognize the diversity of Asian Pacific Americans

The Asian continent and the Pacific Islands encompass many countries, cultures, beliefs, and traditions. It's very common for Asians to be categorized as one "group," but it's essential to break this monolithic definition and celebrate the differences that make each community unique. Embracing this diversity makes it easier to be curious, ask questions, and learn more about the countries you're not as familiar with.

Immerse yourself in the culture

One of the best ways to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is to explore the history, arts, and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Here are a few resources to help you get started: 

We also encourage you to visit local museums, events, and cultural celebrations during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. 

Learn more about the Asian Pacific American experience

If you’re open to sharing your personal experiences as an Asian American or Pacific Islander in the U.S., we would love to hear from you! 

We’ll have a Slack channel dedicated to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month that anyone is welcome to post in. We also have an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for our Asian and Pacific Islander employees that anyone can join! At our next meeting, we’ll discuss relevant topics such as: 

  • [Insert topic]
  • [Insert topic]
  • [Insert topic] 

Bust the “model minority” myth

There’s a long-standing stereotype that views Asians as a quiet, obedient, and hard-working group who have achieved a higher level of success than the general population. This is a myth that can have harmful effects, such as minimizing the racism faced by the community and ignoring the diversity of each individual.

Whether you’re a manager or a colleague, you want to ensure you’re not perpetuating this stereotype with Asian and Pacific Islander employees. Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself: 

  • Are you holding your Asian and Pacific Islander employees or teammates to a different set of standards or expectations? 
  • Do you find yourself surprised when your Asian and Pacific Islander colleagues behave in certain ways (such as being vocal, pushing back, etc.)? 
  • Are there any characteristics that you expect your Asian and Pacific Islander teammates or employees to possess? 

Exploring these types of questions can help you become a more self-aware, conscious, and supportive teammate or manager! 

It’s also important to demonstrate your allyship to Asian and Pacific Islander communities year-round by taking action against acts of violence, discrimination, or unfair treatment. 

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