Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is dedicated to the accomplishments and histories of these minority groups in America, which started as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in 1978, signed into effect by President Jimmy Carter. May commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States in 1843 on May 7, as well as Golden Spike Day, May 10, which celebrates the completion of the transcontinental railroad, built largely by Chinese laborers.
This May, as we find ways to honor and celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, we must also look to ways to help the AAPI community. Following the outbreak of the recent pandemic, there has been a surge of hate crimes and xenophobic rhetoric targeted against Asian Americans, especially women and senior citizens. There has been a 150 percent increase of anti-Asian crime since 2020. In San Francisco, hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders went up an astonishing 567% from the previous year, according to figures released by the police department.
While May shines a light on the AAPI community, it is also important to support and uplift AAPI individuals and families year round. The Bay Area is home to one of the country’s largest AAPI communities, where 27 percent of Bay Area residents – just over two million people – identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander, second only to the Honolulu metro. See below for a range of local and national community organizations and fundraisers to give back to that are dedicated to serving AAPI communities.
Here are 10 different ways you can honor AAPI Heritage Month:
Experience the tastes and sights of SF’s iconic Chinatown with a focus on awesome local businesses that are off the beaten path. This APA Heritage Month take a curated restaurant crawl and merchant tour through Chinatown and see some of the best businesses you probably haven’t heard of (yet!).
The event is being put on by TogetherSF, a nonprofit organization with a mission to increase civic engagement and education in San Francisco.
Sat, May 21, 2022, 3–7:00 p.m., Red’s Place, 672 Jackson St, San Francisco
This curated Indonesian food and art bazaar at La Cocina Marketplace will feature traditional dance, a video presentation, and will be followed by a batik fashion show.
Sat, May 21, 2022, 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., La Cocina Marketplace, 101 Hyde St, San Francisco
San Francisco boasts the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. It was originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara was allowed to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity. Today, the Japanese Tea Garden endures as one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco. Admission policies were recently changed, now allowing all San Francisco residents free admission.
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco
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The Asian Art Museum is dedicated year-round to uplifting the voices and experiences of the AAPI community and providing a platform for visibility, representation, and cross-cultural connection. Each May, the museum commemorates AAPI Heritage Month with programming that celebrates AAPI histories and cultures, builds empathy and understanding, and fights xenophobia, prejudice, and discrimination. Check out their huge range events for the month, including talks, exhibitions, arts activities, cooking demonstrations and more.
200 Larkin St., San Francisco
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest in the US, and Grant and Stockton and their surrounding streets offer a carnival of sights and sounds, shops both kitschy and upscale, plus a huge range of eating options, including some of the best restaurants in the city like Mister Jiu’s.
This Sunday, you’ll have a great excuse to visit, with the Spirit of the Strings concert at the Clarion Performing Arts Center. The guqin is a Chinese 7-string zither. It has a long history dated back 3,000 years and is a spiritual and meditative instrument and often used to accompany poets. In this concert, guqin master David Wong of Tranquil Resonance Studio will perform with poet Clara Hsu. Master Wong’s students will also play. A tea ceremony will start the presentation.
May 21, 2–3:00p.m., Clarion Performing Arts Center, 2 Waverly Pl, San Francisco
Located in San Francisco’s vibrant Japantown, the NJAHS is the guardian of Japanese-American history in San Francisco. This non-profit membership organization is dedicated to the collection, preservation, authentic interpretation, and sharing of historical information of the Japanese American experience. You can visit the NJAHS center in Japantown, while also eating at area’s the countless amazing restaurants or enjoying the shopping center’s browsing paradise — you can get almost anything you could get in Japan within the center’s two main buildings. Especially don’t miss the Kinokuniya bookstore or Matcha Cafe Maiko.
To learn more about the important history of Japanese Americans in the Bay Area and their internment during WWII at the NJAHS’s exhibition DISLOCATION & DIVERGENCE: The Causes & Consequences of E.O 9066 which is located in the Presidio at the MIS Historic Learning Center.
National Japanese Historical Society, 1684 Post Street, San Francisco
MIS Historic Learning Center, Building 640, 640 Mason Street, (Crissy Field) Presidio of San Francisco
The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) welcomes audiences back into the theater to celebrate its fortieth year presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences. Look for films showing around the Bay including at the newly renovated Great Star Theater in Chinatown, Castro Theater, Asian Art Museum, and SFMOMA, as well as online, through May 22.
More than ever, showing support during any heritage or identity month is about taking actionable steps. Beyond eating at AAPI-owned restaurants or shopping at AAPI-owned stores, consider donating to these local and national community organizations who have been fighting for decades to shed light on AAPI awareness.
Asian American Alliance of Marin was founded in 1985 as a collaborative of Asian American residents in Marin County, CA , that responded to interracial conflicts and crises in the community. The Asian American Alliance of Marin (AAAM) is a non-profit organization that is an association of diverse groups of Asian Americans. Its mission is to educate all ethnicities in Marin County about Asian American cultural heritages and to promote Asian American participation in advocacy and civic engagement. In addition, AAAM aims to create opportunities for antiracist reflections, dialogues, actions, and cross-cultural understanding for our communities.
In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, AAPI Equity Alliance (AAPI Equity), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate coalition on March 19, 2020. The coalition tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Our mission is to advance equity, justice and power by dismantling systemic racism and building a multiracial movement to end anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate.
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is dedicated to fighting and empowering AAPI women and young girls to impact policy and drive systemic change in the United States. Founded in 1996, NAPAWF specifically aims to create socioeconomic and political change for AAPI women.