It’s AAPI Heritage Month! But You Knew That… Right? 

Kimberly R. Nario

Y’all, it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’d love to hear how you’re celebrating or acknowledging, but in case that brings about a dreaded silence from you and a swift side-eye from me, let me just go ahead and give you some ideas.

Diversify your personal library.

Take a look at your own collection of reading materials. How well are Asian American and Pacific Islander authors represented? If you’re blushing by your answer, then consider popping into your local bookstore or library to change that! Bonus points if you’ve got any books on your shelf from Richmond native, Jenny Han. You can also check out publishers that work specifically to amplify AAPI voices and stories, like Third State Books and Kaya. While you’re at it, think about other media you consume, like movies and television. Asian stories are important and relevant… are they to you?

Find some local celebrations.

Get your party hats on because across the Commonwealth, celebrations are happening, like this one from Kasama Collective, or Asian Festival on Main in Fairfax City! Did you know the Annual Asian American Celebration is in it’s 26th year? If you missed that, check out this celebration! See what’s happening in your area and consider joining in the fun! Pro tip, coming from a second-generation Filipino American–show up hungry. 

Support AAPI businesses

Is there a Chinatown near you? Have you been putting off a trip to Eden Center? When was the last time you had some pancit or lumpia? Running a small business can be hard enough as it is, so show some extra love this month! And if you’re going to a restaurant, remember to tip! Extra credit if you visit a place you’ve never been and if you bring friends–the more the merrier!

Listen to communities.

AAPI voices aren’t only important to hear during the month of May. Our issues are your issues. We’re your neighbors, your colleagues, and your friends. Our struggles are not uncommon–affordable housing, low wages, clean water and air… the list goes on. If you’ve made it this far into the blog, then you’re probably well aware of the work Progress Virginia does, so I urge to you also follow Hamkae Center and New Virginia Majority. These organizations work directly in communities to uplift the voices of AAPI, immigrant voters, and voters of color. 


From labor movements to fighting U.S. imperialism, AAPI are no strangers to the fight. If I mentioned Larry Itliong, would you know who I was talking about? The impacts of colonialism can still be seen in many of our families. We carry stories of our grandparents, forced as children to watch their homes burn and to learn the languages of their oppressors. But while we try to heal generational trauma, we know the fight continues. Movements keep moving. So whether it’s pushing for collective bargaining or calling for divestment from Israel or a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war–show up. If you’re unable to be there in person, consider donating to your local bail fund, like this one in Richmond

I love my heritage, and I love my culture. I love hearing my family’s stories, even the ones that hold more pain than others. I love having two languages in my brain and close to my heart. So here is a personal invitation, from me to you, to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. 

For additional readings, check out my past blogs on Asian identity and being Asian during the pandemic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *