US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



8 Pieces of Asian American and Pacific Islander culture to celebrate this month

May 27, 2020

This year, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes during a time that has been especially traumatic for Asian and Pacific Islander (API)[1] communities. The Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center received over 1,700 incident reports of verbal harassment, shunning and physical assaults against AAPI over a six-week period in the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.[2] As the virus began to spread in the US, Burmese family members in Texas, including small children, were stabbed in a grocery store by a man who claimed they were spreading the coronavirus.[3] Elderly Asian and Asian-appearing people have been brutalized and shamed by strangers. The President continued to call the coronavirus “the Chinese virus” for weeks, inflaming anti-Asian racism.[4]

It is so important that people in social justice spaces take the time to acknowledge and respond to anti-API racism, to uplift the solutions that API are putting forward, and to recognize and celebrate the long and fraught history of API in this country. That’s why the US Human Rights Network Coordinating Center is launching a series of API-focused articles and other educational content today: to shine a light on the human rights violations past and present that API folks contend with, and to help tell stories of API resistance. We recognize that Asian and Pacific Islander communities are systematically invisibilized, even in social justice movements, and seek to uplift the work and the stories of people who too often go unnoticed. Stay tuned for more information coming soon.

In the meantime, in commemoration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, here is a list of 8 pieces of API culture that have brought us hope during the pandemic. 

  1. Artist Elena Ohlander’s new body of work titled “Xenophobia”, check out this interview with the artist.


  2. This video by Human Rights Campaign where LGBTQ+ API folks describe coming out to their families.

  3. This important webinar that took place this week on the history and current movement of Black and Asian solidarity, featuring several of our members and partners leading the way forward.

  4. Mindy Kaling’s wonderful Netflix series Never Have I Ever featuring an API protagonist, and the fact that it was the number 1 most watched show in 10 countries during the pandemic.


  5. This short video of a brave API teen discussing how “Coronavirus Racism Infected my High School”.

  6. This sign that calls for solidarity between Asian Americans who are facing racist attacks, and Black Americans who have higher death rates from the virus than other groups.

  7. This helpful article from the ACLU on the history of racism and disease in Hawai’i.

  8. This in-depth list of resources and trainings from our members at Asian Americans Advancing Justice to stop API violence in the wake of the coronavirus.

[1] “We use the term “Asian and Pacific Islander” to include all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry who trace their origins to the countries, states, jurisdictions and/or the diasporic communities of these geographic regions.”