Raindrop Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are a group of people who make up a diverse, fast-growing population of over 20 million Americans. AAPI’s are an integral part of American history and society, which is why AAPI Heritage Month is observed annually in May. The monthly celebration was created by Congress in 1992, falling in May to commemorate historical milestones, including the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843 and the significant contributions of Chinese workers to the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.
This month, we at Raindrop honor the many contributions of the AAPI community, however, we believe it is important to preface this by addressing the origin and shortcomings of the terminology. The term “Asian American” was coined in 1968 and originally served as a way to unite people of different backgrounds during a time when Americans would refer to Asians in the US using the derogatory term “oriental”. The term “Asian American” includes people throughout the continent of Asia such as: Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, Thai, Cambodian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Nepalese, Tibetan, Burmese, Pakistani, Bengali, Sri Lankan, Tamil, and more. In the 1980’s, the AAPI label expanded to include Pacific Islanders such as Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, Guamanian, Chamorro, Maori, Fijian, and Tahitian people.
The umbrella term AAPI was intended to be inclusive but has been subject to criticism for obscuring the diversity of the roughly 50+ ethnic groups it covers. There is rising concern over how the term perpetuates stereotypes and generalizations. Why lump together communities that have such unique demographics and cultural differences? Each has their own unique struggles and experiences in the US, which deserves equal representation.
At Raindrop, we recognize that the Asian American experience is multi-faceted. We celebrate the beauty and diversity of the AAPI community. There is no singular “Asian American” experience, but an ever-evolving collection of nuanced, complex, and rich cultural experiences that create a vibrant, far-reaching diaspora.
In tandem, it is also important to acknowledge the harm and generational trauma the AAPI community experiences in the aftermath of events such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1892 (which had lasting ramifications on Asian immigration until 1965), the Japanese Internment camps of WWII, the overthrow and subsequent annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, how 9/11 impacted the South and Southwest Asian communities with accusations of terrorism, and more.
We must also acknowledge how these affect pervasive racist stereotypes in media and pop culture, like the model minority myth.
To mark this important month and help demonstrate our support and appreciation for the AAPI community, our DEI committee and design team created Zoom backgrounds. After searching for design inspiration, we decided to incorporate natural elements such as flowers and foliage to represent the plethora of Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. We invite you to use the following backgrounds.
This month, we encourage everyone to take steps to becoming better allies to the AAPI community, including the following action items:
- Support AAPI-owned businesses or organizations.
- Amplify AAPI voices.
- Examine your own unconscious biases around the AAPI community such as the model minority myth.
- Educate yourself on the history of AAPIs in the US.
- Be aware of microaggressions targeted at AAPIs.
It is our hope that by highlighting AAPI month and using this opportunity to celebrate diversity within the community, that we’re able to uplift and empower our own AAPI Raindroppers within the workplace, and beyond.