Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos, Director of Asian Pacific American Student Development Eunice Kwon, Vice Provost for the Faculty Benjamin E. Hermalin, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen C. Sutton and Chief People and Culture Officer Eugene Whitlock sent the following message to the campus community: 

In May, our campus recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to honor the contributions of the AAPI community to our campus, state and country. The AAPI community consists of over 50 different ethnic groups. Over the past few years, the spike in anti-Asian violence and xenophobia has sadly overshadowed this time of celebration, although we acknowledge that anti-Asian racism is nothing new in our country.

We hope that this month will allow renewed space to celebrate the achievements and culture of the incredibly diverse AAPI community at UC Berkeley and the 24 million Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander contributions

The field of Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies was founded at Berkeley more than 50 years ago, one of the very first programs in the country. Elaine Kim, one of the founders of Asian American Studies, was the first Asian American woman to receive tenure at Berkeley.

Last year, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Standing Committee (AAPISC) released a report entitled “Twenty Years Later: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at UC Berkeley” It provides critical data on the experiences of the AAPI community and recommendations for how to cultivate a campus environment that is welcoming and inclusive.

Through the advocacy of the Pacific Islander (PI) Initiative, a part of Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD), Berkeley has been making progress on addressing the underrepresentation of PI students on our campus. The number of PI undergraduates entering Berkeley this year jumped by more than 66% over the previous year. PI students held over a dozen programs to bring together the PI community on campus, including hosting the Second Annual OMAOCH (Oceans Maintaining And Organizing CHange; a Palauan word) Conference, a youth conference that aims to build community among Pasifika communities.

In March 2022, several prominent Asian American alumni and community members came together to discuss the importance and impact of Berkeley’s Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS) program. Follow-up community meetings on May 19 and May 20 will discuss how to advance Asian American Studies in higher education and incorporate Asian American history into the K-12 curriculum.

Campus resources

In addition to AAPISC, we have several resources that support the campus’ AAPI community, including Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD), which includes the Pacific Islander (PI) Initiative, the South Asian, Southwest Asian, and North African (SSWANA) Initiative, and the Asian American Political Activation ProgramAsian Pacific American Systemwide Alliance (APASA)MENASA (Middle Eastern, North African, South Asian) Staff Organization. We have also updated the AAPI General Wellness Guide, a wellness resource for AAPI students created in 2021 by undergraduate student Cori Kumamoto.

Campus events

May is filled with many cultural celebrations and discussions, including a Noon Concert: Balinese Gamelan (May 4), Queer, Trans & API: Community, Coalitions, & Activism (May 5),  Identity and the State: The Second Annual Indian Politics Workshop of the Center on Contemporary India (May 11-12), the APASA Heritage Month Book Swap (May 12) and the University Library’s Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022 (May 23).

We hope you will join us in learning more and celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the contributions of the AAPI community.