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Learn, Feast and Celebrate With 2022 AAPI Heritage Month Events

Take a Filipino cooking class, visit a Bruce Lee exhibit and attend festivals

spinner image Members of the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York perform a traditional spring dance Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Chris Hondros / Getty Images


More than 30 years ago, for the first time, Congress designated May as what’s now called Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month as a way to officially recognize and celebrate the community.

Since then, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have become the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the United States, with a population that’s expected to surpass 35 million by 2060, according to the Pew Research Center. This multicultural community encompasses people who speak more than 100 languages with roots in more than 20 countries, including China, India and the Pacific islands, such as Samoa.

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This year, AAPI Heritage Month comes as the community continues to grapple with anti-Asian attacks, including against older people. But there is also plenty to celebrate.

“With the spike in anti-Asian hate and rhetoric, it’s an opportunity to pause and reflect on the contributions of Asian Pacific Americans to the fabric of America,” says Roland Hwang, vice president of public affairs for OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates and cofounder of American Citizens for Justice. It’s “an opportunity for Americans to appreciate who we are, as members and contributors to society, and to celebrate that.”

Having spent much of the past two-plus years supporting COVID-19-related public health efforts, as well as combating anti-Asian hate, AAPI community members have the chance in May to celebrate being together in person.

“With everything that’s happening in our community, I’m glad we have our space and events where our communities are centered,” says Emilio Manuel Camu, whose roles include director of the Asian Link Project and director of the Pilipino American Association of Utah.

Read on for ways to observe AAPI Heritage Month.

Support Asian-owned businesses and restaurants

As pandemic restrictions ease, go out and support Asian-owned restaurants and small businesses. Many Asian neighborhoods were hard hit financially and otherwise by the COVID-19 pandemic and some saw a drop-off in business due to anti-Asian rhetoric, says Debbie Chen, executive vice president for OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates.

“For a lot of small businesses, they’re really struggling and taking losses just to see it through,” Chen says.  

To help, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates has created a national directory of Asian-owned restaurants and food businesses. A work in progress, it launches May 1 for AAPI Heritage Month, with some of the businesses offering special restaurant promotions through early June.

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“Food is such an important part of our community,” Chen says. “My hope is that part of AAPI Heritage Month is to support small mom-and-pop businesses, going out to eat, ordering takeout and celebrating this month with your families and friends.”

If you’d rather provide support virtually, take a tour through Gold House’s Gold Rush market, featuring AAPI-owned businesses. Gold House, a nonprofit supporting AAPI entrepreneurs, creators and leaders, established the online marketplace to showcase AAPI-founded start-ups. Many of the businesses will offer special discounts during AAPI Heritage Month.  

Dive into AAPI books and entertainment

Take the opportunity to learn more about the lives, experiences and rich histories of AAPI communities through books, films and shows. Throughout May, for example, the Asian Authors Alliance will post a series of YouTube videos featuring conversations with AAPI authors. The Lakshmi and Asha Show also reviews the latest books, films and television shows through a South Asian American lens. Or tune into Campu, a podcast, featuring stories about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and produced by Densho, an organization that preserves Japanese American stories.

CAAMFest40, the annual film festival organized by the Center for Asian American Media, will run May 12-22 with a full lineup of virtual and in-person showings, plus food and music in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pacific Islanders in Communications also offers compelling documentaries and films, including the documentary series Pacific Heartbeat, an authentic look at Pacific Islander culture and issues. OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates is also launching a series of videos and virtual events during May highlighting the relationship and deep history between AAPI and Black communities. 

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