Along with my love of K-pop I have been learning more and more about Asian culture over the last few years, so I am excited about the month of May which is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
AAPI Heritage Month began in 1977 as a ten-day celebration of Asian Pacific American contributions to this country. In 1992, the celebration expanded to the entire month of May. The observance is held in this month to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, largely built by Chinese immigrants, on May 10, 1869.
Nearly 7% of the population identifies as Asian American or Pacific Islander and it’s the fastest growing demographic in the United States. Unfortunately, the contributions of this group have not been widely acknowledged, and an increase in anti-Asian violence over the past two years demonstrates the need for more awareness and understanding.
Here are some ideas to broaden your experiences and have fun with AAPI culture and history.
Watch a film:
Watch Academy Award-winning films like Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite”, the first non-English film to win an Academy Award and “Nomadland” directed by Chloe Zhao, the first Asian woman to win the Best Director prize. Or enjoy “Minari,” a story that follows a Korean-American family that moves to Arkansas in search of the American dream. In addition to other recent Korean movies like “Burning” and “Train to Busan” (the best zombie film ever made), there are Hollywood films directed by Asian filmmakers like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Farewell,” and “Searching”. If Bollywood is your newest obsession, Netflix has compiled a catalog of these films.
Eat Something New:
Learn to cook a new Asian cuisine. With 50 Asian countries to choose from, there are plenty of yummy recipes to try. Here are 30 easy recipes to get you started. Don’t feel like cooking? Then try a new restaurant.
Read a Book:
Choose a book club book that features an author with AAPI heritage or an AAPI theme. Some great selections are:
- Displacement by Kiku Hughes
- The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
- Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Fairest by Meredith Talusan
Listen to Some New Music:
This is my area of expertise! Since K-pop is taking the world by storm you have probably heard of BTS, the South Korean boy band that is shaking hearts all around the globe, not to mention shattering records for music charts, album sales and concert ticket sales. But there is so much more to explore!
- Spotify – search K-Pop (Korean), J-Pop (Japanese) or C-Pop (Chinese) and a whole new world of exciting music is at your fingertips. And it’s not just pop music, but hip-hop, rock, R&B and classical.
- YouTube – search these same phrases and you will be astounded by the videos that these groups produce. The music, dancing, performance quality and visuals are truly incredible. But don’t do this unless you have a lot of time to spare because you will spiral down a rabbit hole and not come out for hours…trust me on this!
Laurie Nelson-Choice | Director of Diversity & National Sales | Visit Baltimore