Throughout the month of May, UMBC, Maryland and the Country celebrate the history, resilience, and cultures of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities worldwide as a part of APIDA Heritage Month.
APIDA Heritage Month started as a week-long celebration in 1977 and later was expanded to a full month. The Month of May carries significance as it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad completion on May 10, 1869 - honoring the majority Chinese Immigrants who laid the tracks.
APIDA Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. APIDA encompasses people from all of the Asian continent, India, and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
Today, there are approximately 20 million Asian Americans that trace their roots to more than 20 countries, each with their own unique histories, cultures, languages, and norms. While this diverse group is often treated as a monolith, significant differences exist by income, education, religion, etc.
Throughout U.S. history and over the past year, we know our APIDA community has been impacted by Asian American hate crimes and anti-Asian sentiment. But even as we navigate these ongoing pains, we must also find/create and center spaces for joy, intentional rest, and shared community. Honoring APIDA Heritage Month is more than ordering Chinese or Indian food, it’s about amplifying lived experiences, uncovering challenging histories and recommitting to shared action and justice. Resources for you to learn more can be found below:
Upcoming Campus Events
- The Making of Asian America: A History - Erika Lee
- Heart and Seoul - Jen Frederick
- The Farm - Joanne Ramos
- Interior Chinatown - Charls Yu
- Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother and American Daughter - Lan Cao, Harlan Maragaret Van Cao
- The Bad Muslim Discount - Syed M. Masood
- Fairest - Meredith Talusan
- On the Outside Looking Indian - Rupinder Gill