A note from Evelyn DeJesus, Executive Vice President of AFT
Happy Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! May is a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of the more than 24 million AANHPI’s in the United States.
The AANHPI community is the fastest growing and most diverse racial and ethnic group in the United States. It’s a mosaic of rich cultural and ethnic identities which represents over 100 languages and 50 ethnic groups. AANHPIs have made significant social, economic, cultural, literary, culinary, and political contributions to American life.
Asian American workers have been integral to the U.S. labor movement since the 1800s when plantation workers in the Hawaiian Islands began forming unions to protest working conditions and continue to play critical roles to date.
It's also not lost on me that this year’s celebration is different than previous years. As we emerge from the global pandemic, many in our communities are still grieving loss, and some members of our AAPI communities have been victims of discrimination, racial slurs, assault and even death. According to the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center close to 3,800 racist incidents were reported last year a significant increase from previous years. We must not only bear witness to but be active participants in the calls for racial equality, justice and healing. This is the time to come together and stand united against all forms of hate. To learn more about the AFTs stop Asian hate campaign visit www.aft.org/stopasianhate
Join me in honoring this important month by posting selfies with the AFT #AAPIPROUD signs and call out the need to #STOPAAPIHate. Let’s use this moment to celebrate AANHPI heritage month by reading books highlighting AAPI authors, characters, accomplishments, and everyday experiences of individuals who are Asian, Native Hawaiian, & Pacific Islander. We also want to encourage you to share these important resources and stories with students, colleagues and family members year-round, not just during the month of May!
As a grandmother of two half Asian grandchildren, I know how important it is for our students to read books that reflect their lived experience and culture.
Over the years, the AFT and First Book have distributed hundreds of thousands of books highlighting diverse authors, characters and cultures—including bilingual titles. Through our partnership, we have supported school libraries, back-to-school efforts, citizenship clinics and large-scale resource distributions across the country, including in Guam, California, New York and Florida, to provide high-quality books, school supplies and basic-needs items to predominately AANHPI communities.