May marks the end of the semester and the start of AANHPI Heritage Month | Culture
May 1 marked the start of this year’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
“Asian Americans” includes all US residents who share recent ancestry with a country in Asia. This includes countries in the Middle East, such as Qatar (which will host this year’s World Cup) and Palestine; Central Asia, which includes countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; East Asia, which includes countries like China, Japan and the Koreas; South Asia, which includes countries like India, Nepal and Pakistan; and Southeast Asia, which includes countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.
“Pacific Islander” represents U.S. residents who share ancestry with people from Polynesian, Melanesian, and Micronesian islands in the Pacific Ocean. Historically, the term has also been used to account for people of Hawaiian descent, who are also celebrated in the AAPIHM; however, there has been a movement to identify Native Hawaiian identity as an ethnicity distinct from “Pacific Islander”.
“As some of the fastest growing racial and ethnic groups in the nation, [Asian Americans] and [Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander] communities represent a multitude of ethnicities, languages and experiences that enrich America and strengthen our Union,” President Joe Biden said.
The AANHPIHM was first celebrated in 1977 when U.S. Representatives Frank Horton [R-N.Y.] and Norman Mineta [D-Calif.] proposed to designate the first 10 days of May as Asia-Pacific Heritage Week. It was later extended to an entire month in 1990 when former President George HW Bush signed a bill legalizing the expansion. Its purpose is to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the years.
As President Biden has said, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) have long played a vital role in the writing of American history, and recent years have been one of those. an example.
Evidence of this essential influence is the expansion of AANHPI’s representation in the entertainment industry.
In 2021, Riz Ahmed became the first Muslim to be nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars for his performance in “The Sound of Metal” (2019). Although he didn’t win that year, he finally won his first Oscar this year for his work in “The Long Goodbye” (2020). His animated documentary “Flee” (2021), which was named best animated film of 2021 by The Penn, was also nominated in this edition.
Additionally, last year, Chloe Zhao made history as the first woman of color to win Best Director for her work in “Nomadland” (2020). His work in the film also won him the “Best Picture” award; marking the second year in a row that someone of Asian descent has won both awards, like Bong Joon Ho did in 2020 for his work in “Parasite” (2021).
Simu Liu, who last year became the first Asian lead role in a blockbuster Marvel film, believes that this increased representation will teach children that they are capable of achieving anything they hope for, despite the fact that “sectarian” people say otherwise.
“I loved comic books as a kid, I loved superheroes, but I really didn’t see myself represented in that space,” Liu said in an interview. “I really hope that with this movie, kids who are like me, who grew up the same way, can have that.”
“That’s really the power of representation: seeing yourself on screen and feeling like you’re part of that world, which wasn’t always the case for Asian kids growing up in the West,” added Liu.
AANHPI’s impact in the entertainment industry is not limited to movies. This year’s Grammys presented a historic moment for AANHPI in music, as three awards out of four major categories were presented to individuals who identify as part of the AANHPI community.
Grammy veteran Bruno Mars, of Hawaiian and Filipino descent, and his musical partner Anderson Paak, of Korean descent, won Song of the Year and Record of the Year awards for their single “Leave the Door Open” (2020). The song also won two additional Grammys for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance.
Additionally, Filipino-American singer Olivia Rodrigo, who topped the charts last year with her hit songs “Driver’s License” (2021) and “Good 4 U” (2021), won the “Best New Artist” award. “. Rodrigo also won Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “Driver’s License” and Best Pop Vocal Album for “Sour” (2021).
Like Liu, Rodrigo expressed how she hopes her presence in the media will inspire AANHPI youth to pursue their dreams.
“I sometimes get DMs from little girls saying, ‘I’ve never seen anyone who looked like me in your position,'” Rodrigo said in an interview. “I feel like I grew up never seeing that. It was always like, [the word] ‘Pop star,’ [always meant] a white girl.”
As AANHPI’s influence becomes increasingly evident in our everyday culture, The Penn wishes all students, faculty, and staff who identify as part of the demographic a Happy AANHPI Heritage Month. ‘AANHPI.