May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Congress first established Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in 1992. The month of May was selected due to the arrival of the nation’s first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and Chinese workers’ pivotal role in building the transcontinental railroad (completed May 10, 1869). In 2021, it was expanded to include Native Hawaiians.
Below are some interesting statistics on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations in the United States:
24.0 million – The estimated number of people who identified as Asian alone or in combination in the United States in 2020
1.6 million – The estimated number of people that identified as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone or in combination in the United States in 2020.
5.1 million – The estimated number of the Asian alone or in combination population of Chinese, except Taiwanese, descent in the United States in 2020. The Chinese (except Taiwanese) population was the largest Asian group, followed by Asian Indian (4.5 million), Filipino (4.1 million), Vietnamese (2.2 million), Korean (1.9 million) and Japanese (1.6 million).
619,855 – The number of Native Hawaiians in the United States in 2020. The Native Hawaiian population was the largest detailed Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (NHPI) group, followed by Samoan (211,876) and Chamorro (156,083). These estimates represent the number of people who reported a specific detailed NHPI group alone, as well as people who reported that detailed NHPI group in combination with one or more other detailed NHPI groups or another race(s).
2.5% – The estimated percentage of Asian alone or in combination who are military veterans in 2019.
35,152 – The number of Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone who are military veterans in 2020.
The list below includes commonly used Asian American and Pacific Islander-related terms. Although this is a general overview, please note that some cultural identities can overlap in this larger classification of AAPI individuals.
AAPI: Asian American and Pacific Islander. This term generally includes all people of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander descent.
Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent.
East Asian: A person of Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean and Mongolian descent.
South Asian: A person of Indian, Bangladesh, Sri Lankan, Nepal and Pakistani backgrounds.
Southeast Asian: A person of Filipino, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Lao, Indonesian, Thai or Singaporean descent.
Central Asian: A person with origins in the original peoples of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Pacific Islander: A person with origins in the original peoples of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia.
West Asian: A person with origins in the original peoples of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Tragically, hate crimes against these populations have continued to rise nationwide since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic, with 10,905 against Asian American and Pacific Islander persons from March 19, 2020 to December 31, 2021. Almost half (48.7%) of all hate incidents took place in public spaces, and 61.8% were reported by women. Chinese Americans reported the most hate incidents (42.8%) of all ethnic groups, followed by Korean (16.1%), P/Filipinx (8.9%), Japanese (8.2%), and Vietnamese Americans (8.0%). In response to this heightened violence, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center created Bravespace, a compilation of original songs, sounds, and meditations created by Asian American women and non-binary artists and musicians. Bravespace offers listeners a refuge for contemplation, grief, and growth. It can be accessed here: https://smithsonianapa.org/bravespace/