Washington, D.C. – May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which recognizes the history, contributions, and achievements of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. To commemorate this month-long celebration, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements:
Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05):
“Every year, we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by recognizing the rich history, culture, and traditions the AAPI community has shared with us. This year in particular, we also acknowledge the disturbing rise in anti-Asian hate in the United States during this pandemic and recognize the history of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that has always existed in this country. We must recommit ourselves to not only combatting discrimination in all its forms, but also uplifting the joy and strength that define the AAPI community.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community! AAPIs are one of the most diverse groups in the country with over 23 million people who represent more than 50 distinct ethnicities and dozens of different languages. And through our contributions, the AAPI community has continuously strengthened our nation as health care workers, entrepreneurs, scientists, teachers, military service members, artists, public servants, and more. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I want to celebrate the AAPI trailblazers who opened doors for the rest of us and helped propel our country forward. From Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole’s efforts to pass the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, to Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz’s fight to ensure American farmworkers have labor rights, to Vice President Kamala Harris’s trailblazing journey to the White House as the first woman, Asian American, and Black Vice President, these AAPIs changed the course of American history for the better and should be celebrated.
“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am committed to addressing the needs and concerns of the AAPI community as we continue to face new challenges. With an alarming rise in violent anti-Asian attacks throughout the pandemic, championing AAPI representation is more important than ever. And thanks to President Biden, our calls for more representation are being heard at the highest level. The President has made several historical appointments, elevating more AAPIs to senior positions in our government. And in Congress, we are working to pass landmark legislation to address anti-Asian hate crimes that will be sent to the President’s desk this month. But we cannot eradicate hate alone. That’s why it is imperative that we stand united in the face of bigotry and uplift our vibrant AAPI communities.
“AAPIs are the fastest-growing group in the country and, after years of being invisible, the needs and experiences of our community are finally being recognized from Hollywood to the Oval Office. As we celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our diverse community and honor AAPI trailblazers who paved the way for many of us today, I will continue to be a strong voice for the AAPI community as we work to build a brighter future for generations to come.”
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):
“During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, in Hawaii and across the country, we celebrate the vibrant history, culture, and traditions of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. But this year, as we again observe APAHM amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing attacks against AAPIs remind us of the need to fight for a more inclusive and equitable society. I join my CAPAC colleagues in recognizing the immense contributions of AAPIs throughout American history, and in advocating for policies that support the AAPI community.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06), CAPAC First Vice Chair:
“This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is unlike any other APAHM we’ve celebrated. While this month is normally a time to celebrate and reflect on the numerous and outstanding contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made throughout our nation’s history, this year, it is filled with heartache, grief, and fear; but it is also filled with energy and fire for our community to come together stronger, united, and backed by allyship.
“Since as far back as the 1700s, AAPIs have shaped our infrastructure, built our economy, transformed our culture, and fought to ensure our nation lives out its founding principle, that all individuals are created equal. The legacies of AAPIs have continued to shine despite the struggles against institutionalized discrimination. And yet, generations of Americans in this country have never received a complete teaching of our American history. From the Page Act of 1875, that paved the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the Japanese American Internment, to anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents during COVID-19, AAPIs have faced generations of discrimination and hate. In order to build a brighter future where all can have a piece of the American Dream, we have to learn from our shared history. That is why I have introduced a bill that would promote the teaching and learning of Asian and Pacific American history in K-12 schools across our nation. We can’t focus on tearing down the walls of biases and discrimination until our kids have a full teaching of what American history truly is.
“And so, for this year’s APAHM – it cannot be like all other times we’ve celebrated; instead, let it be a clarion call for our community and our allies to shout out that anti-Asian hate is unequivocally wrong.”
Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Second Vice Chair:
“Each May, we have an opportunity to honor and celebrate the contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Our accomplishments and struggles are intertwined in the fabric of this country and have helped make it what it is today. History has shown us that in the face of adversity, the AAPI community remains strong-willed and resilient. This year, we celebrate during a time when there is increased hate and discrimination targeting our neighbors, friends, and loved ones. We will not be silent in the face of this hate. We will demand justice, we will fight back against discrimination, and we will live boldly and celebrate who we are. This last year has been painful for our community, but we must continue to look forward and fight on for a brighter future.”
Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), CAPAC Whip:
“Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! This month, we celebrate the rich history, culture, and traditions that AAPIs have shared with our nation. While we honor the contributions of the AAPI community, we recognize the incredible challenges facing our community today. According a new Pew study, 1 in 3 Asian Americans currently fear threats and violence. This statistic is heartbreaking, but not surprising. Every day, Asian Americans are facing verbal attacks, threats, and physical assaults in a time when discrimination against our community is heightened. The hate must stop. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, as we raise awareness around AAPI hate, I hope we can also focus on the monumental achievements of the AAPI community and celebrate all that they add to the diverse fabric of our nation.”
Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02), CAPAC Freshmen Representative:
“During the month of May, we celebrate the long history and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders across the United States. Today, I join my CAPAC colleagues in wishing America a very happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Further, as a Native Hawaiian member of Congress, I applaud President Biden for explicitly naming Native Hawaiians in his Heritage Month proclamation for the first time in our nation’s history. Although Native Hawaiians are one of the many peoples of the Pacific Islands, Native Hawaiians are unique and have a special legal, political and trust relationship with the United States and should be recognized as such. The President’s proclamation sends a strong message that words matter and representation is essential in celebrating our identity.”