May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month; a time for recognizing the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the history, culture, and achievement of the United States. Here at Dime Bags, we are always interested in educating ourselves and our fans about the diversity within our society.
This blog will go into a bit of history about AAPI Heritage Month, but even more importantly, we have researched a few ways that we can all support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders within our communities. Keep reading to find out! 💚
History of AAPI Heritage Month
The month-long celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage started with a simple inquiry by Jeanie Jew, a former Capitol Hill staffer. She first approached Congressman Frank Horton in the 1970’s concerned about the lack of representation of Asian Americans within the country after witnessing the lack of representation at the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations of 1976. This was personal to Jeanie, as her great-grandfather, M.Y. Lee came to the U.S. from China in the 1800s and had helped build the transcontinental railroad, among many other Chinese immigrants.
Even though Chinese immigrants played a vital role in building America, in the late 19th century, U.S. federal law openly targeted Chinese immigrants with The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Jeanie Jew wanted all Americans to understand the contributions and histories of the Asian-Pacific American experience in the United States.
Thanks to Jeanie, in the late 1970’s, a bill was finally passed to designate the first week of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Week, which was later expanded to include the whole month in the 90’s. A little late if you ask us! 👀
Why May? May is significant for 2 reasons. The first known Japanese immigrant arrived in the U.S. in the month of May, and 20 years later, in 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed by more than 20,000 Chinese laborers. These two historic moments inspired May to be AAPI Heritage Month.
Violence was, and still is, common towards Americans of Asian descent. We can’t ignore the recent ongoing racial discriminations and attacks on the AAPI community. Research by the Center of the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University found that hate crimes have surged by 169% in the last year. We have a long way to go in terms of racial unity and equality, but we have to start somewhere.
AAPI Heritage Month is a great time for all Americans to start educating ourselves about the history and hardships of Asian Americans, but it shouldn’t stop when May is over. In order to truly appreciate any culture other than our own, the first step is to educate ourselves.
There are some great articles available such as, “how to fight anti-AAPI bias” or “history of anti-Asian racism in the United States”. Arguably, the most important thing to do in any cause is to be an ally; educate your friends and family, share resources, and help amplify the voices of the Asian American community.
How to Celebrate
While there are a variety of things you can do to help support Asian communities, one effective way to take action is by donating. It is important to do your research and find out which organizations or nonprofits are the best for you to donate to. However, we did find a comprehensive list of organizations here that you can check out! 📃
An easy and fun way to support the AAPI community is to shop at their businesses! Instead of going to a chain restaurant, or through a drive-thru, check out your local AAPI owned restaurants. Not only is this directly helping Asian Americans, but it also supports your local community.
AAPI Owned Brands
We found a few dope, AAPI owned brands to get you started:
Blueland: Blueland was founded by Sarah Paiji Yoo, a mom who was horrified by all the plastic that she was throwing away from household products. Yoo had the passion to make innovative and reusable packaged household products- such as soaps, sprays, and laundry- that are both efficient and affordable. Blueland provides powerful tablets that you can use to refill the reusable, glass containers. They are truly changing the game of household essentials. ♻
The Sill: Looking for houseplants to be delivered right to your door? Eliza Blank started The Sill because not only was it something she had never seen done before, but she wanted to make buying plants an easy experience. The Sill offers everything from plant delivery, tips and tricks for keeping your plants health, and even local workshops!
Mount Lai: Mount Lai was founded by Stephanie Zheng, an esthetician, who was inspired by her grandmother and traditional Chinese Medicine. Her goal was to continue to pass down the non-toxic recipes and facial tools to new generations. Mount Lai takes a modern approach to these ancient rituals which help prompt glowing, healthy skin.
Gua Sha recently started trending on TikTok, which unfortunately caused many people to purchase cheap tools from stores like Amazon. It is important to support brands who are not only sustainable, but Asian owned as well. We can only truly appreciate traditional cultural practices by supporting Chinese businesses.
Nguyen Coffee Supply: Nguyen Coffee Supply is the first Vietnamese coffee company in the U.S.! This coffee company was founded by Sahra Nguyen, a first generation Vietnamese American and daughter of refugees. She is on a mission to change the future of specialty coffee through transparency, inclusion, and sustainability. They even partner with a 4th generation farmer, Mr. Ton, who owns his family farm in Vietnam. If you’re a coffee lover, you’ll appreciate the powerful flavor and intensity of these beans.
Do you know of any other AAPI owned brands? Let us know in the comments so we can all support them!