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Asian-Pacific Heritage Month

The month of May is Asian Pacific Heritage month where recognition is given to the widespread contributions to the United States by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the areas of music, medicine, science and mathematics, technology, literature and the arts. From acupuncture to zen, the cultures, philosophies and technical knowledge of this region have enriched and expanded our lives.

May was chosen for this celebration because it commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States in May 1843 and to honor the anniversary of the transcontinental railroad completion in May 1869 through the hard work of Chinese immigrants.

Related research guide

Asian History and Studies
Created by a PCC Librarian, this guide covers Asian art, literature, religion, and a multitude of featured titles for suggested reading on Asian History and Studies.

Streaming videos

Asian Americans
A five-hour PBS film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. This series traces the story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, and cultural innovation.  PCC Library also has this series by episode:

Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond, Volume 1
Asian American Stories of Resilience: Volume 1 reflects the complexities of Asian American experiences: Queer filmmaker Quyên Nguyen-Le recovers and articulates the legacy of their mother’s nail salon for their refugee family, and Filipino-American filmmaker Frances Rubio records and captures the experience of being distanced from her sick father, who has been isolated in his facility during the pandemic

Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond, Volume 2
Asian American Stories of Resilience: Volume 2 reflects the complexities of Asian American experiences: Filipinx filmmaker Bree Nieves and her cousin grapple with what remains of their dreams, after losing one of their fathers during the pandemic; and Chanthon Bun, who lost his legal protection to live in the U.S. after conviction, must tread carefully after being released – ICE could detain and deport him.

Becoming American: The Chinese Experience
What does it mean to become American? What is lost and what is gained in the process? In interviews with historians, descendants, and recent immigrants, this set of powerful Bill Moyers documentaries explores these questions through the dramatic experience of the Chinese in America.

Breaking the Model: Stories of Asian American History and Presence
Breaking the Model: Stories of Asian American History and Presence brings together four different short documentaries exploring immigration, genealogy, gentrification and resilience within America.


The Gateway to the Pacific: Japanese Americans and the Remaking of San Francisco
In the decades following World War II, municipal leaders and ordinary citizens embraced San Francisco’s identity as the “Gateway to the Pacific,” using it to reimagine and rebuild the city. The city became a cosmopolitan center on account of its newfound celebration of its Japanese and other Asian American residents, its economy linked with Asia, and its favorable location for transpacific partnerships.

Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World
Challenging the commonly held perception that immigrants’ lives are shaped exclusively by their sending and receiving countries, Here, There, and Elsewhere breaks new ground by showing how immigrants are vectors of globalization who both produce and experience the interconnectedness of societies—not only the societies of origin and destination, but also, the societies in places beyond.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition–if such a thing exists? Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America.

Model Minority Masochism: Performing the Cultural Politics of Asian American Masculinity
Few grand narratives loom over Asian Americans more than the “model minority.” While many Asian Americanist scholars and activists aim to disprove the model minority as “myth,” author Takeo Rivera instead rethinks the model minority as cultural politics.

Print books

Asian American Histories of the United States
Asian American Histories of the United States illuminates how an over-century-long history of Asian migration, labor, and community formation in the United States is fundamental to understanding the American experience and its existential crises of the early twenty-first century.

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement
A compelling account of the killing of Vincent Chin, the verdicts that took the Asian American community to the streets in protest, and the groundbreaking civil rights trial that followed.

An Illustrated Timeline of Oregon’s Asian-Pacific-Islanders History: 1804-2015
Our center is proud to share with our community an illustrated timeline of Oregon’s Asian-Pacific-Islanders History from 1804 to 2015. Our students and volunteers made selections of historical events that gave shape to the Asian-Pacific-Islanders experience in Oregon. These events contextualize our experiences and continue to have powerful implications into the present of all Oregonians.

Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America
Explores the questions what does it mean to be white, why does whiteness retain the magic cloak of invisibility while other colors are made hypervisible, and how much does whiteness figure into Americanness?

The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays
One of the most acclaimed essayists of his generation, Wesley Yang writes about race and sex without the jargon, formulas, and polite lies that bore us all. His essays retain the thrill of discovery, the wary eye of the first explorer, and the rueful admission of the first exposed.

Related websites

Asian Community in Oregon
Being Asian in America: In the fall of 2021, Pew Research Center undertook the largest focus group study it had ever conducted to hear Asian Americans talk about their lived experiences in America.

Asian Nation
This site includes an overview of the historical, demographic, political, and cultural issues that make up today’s diverse Asian American community.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Hosted by the Library of Congress, this site provides a calendar of events at various national museums, including the Smithsonian Institution’s online exhibit Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II Exhibition.

Asian Reporter
A source for international, national, and Pacific NW Asian news.

Cambodian-American Community of Oregon
A Facebook site set up to unite, preserve and empower the Cambodian community in Oregon and SW Washington.

Japan-American Society of Oregon
A non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen US-Japan relationships.

Portland Classical Chinese Garden
A treasure in the heart of downtown Portland, this garden is an authentic representation of Chinese trees, flora, and pavilions.

Portland Japanese Gardens
Located in Southwest Portland, these gardens offer a peaceful respite from a busy world. Japanese culture is on display in the landscape, the gift store, and in public tours and exhibits.

Vietnamese Community of Oregon
This Facebook site has daily news, reports, scholarships, awards, and a variety of events related to the Vietnamese Community.

Related podcasts and videos

Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast
Ken Fong gets to the heart of Asian American culture, history, and spirituality. Through interviews with culture-makers and -shapers in the Asian American community — some you know, others you’ve never heard of before — prepare to laugh, cry, and be amazed.

Being Asian in America
In a new Pew Research Center analysis based on 66 focus groups conducted in the fall of 2021, Asian American participants described navigating their own identity in a nation where the label “Asian” brings expectations about their origins, behavior and physical self.

Dear Asian Americans
Dear Asian Americans is a podcast for and by Asian Americans, focusing on authentic storytelling rooted in origin, identity, and legacy. Host Jerry Won brings on guests from diverse backgrounds and career paths to celebrate, support, and inspire the Asian American community

Welcome to Immigrantly: a boundary-pushing, border-crossing podcast that gives diverse voices and stories home. Drawing on her own experiences as a rights activist and a first-generation Asian immigrant, creator & host, Saadia Khan tackles the big questions on race, identity & the immigrant experience while challenging mainstream narratives

A People’s History of Asian Americans
A People’s History of Asian America is a series of thoughtful visual essays and explainers, hosted by Emmy award-winning journalist, Dolly Li, and Asian studies scholar and professor, Adrian De Leon. Each episode offers informed and empowering perspectives, helping to break down common microaggressions and racist stereotypes through the tools of ethnic studies.

TEENtastic Tuesdays: AAPI Heritage Month Kicks-off with the Linda Lindas
Celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a mini concert and interview with LA’s own Asian & Latinx teen band The Linda Lindas!

Why Do We Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month?
May marks the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The month represents a celebration of the important contributions of the #AAPI community to American history, society, and culture. Asia Society Magazine is joined by historian Ellen Wu to talk about the pivotal moments in history that led to the creation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month — from the Black Freedom Movement and the Asian American Movement of the 1970s and the proclamation of the first AAPI heritage celebration in May 1979.