BAM! Let’s Celebrate AANHPI Month

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Heritage Month! If you’re wondering how to celebrate, start with an easy and fun way: Food! Support your local AANHPI restaurant. But after you try something tasty, I invite you to dig deeper: Explore various AANHPI cultures with my BAM! approach. Say what? Read on to find out more.

As a Filipino American, I too, can get overwhelmed and feel the pressure of learning ALL the AANHPI history so I can be a “good” Asian. Then I remember to approach learning not as burdensome homework, but as a fun way to explore a tapestry of different people. And as an artist, I also see it as an opportunity to be inspired.

Before we get into BAM, let’s start with the basics: What is culture? It’s a people’s collection of intellectual achievement as expressed through language, art, books, music, and history. For today, we’ll focus on BAM: Books, Art, and Music.

BOOKS: Read a book that covers AANHPI history. Whoa, a history book?? I thought we said this wasn’t homework! Don’t worry, I have a fun one for you: My favorite is RISE: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now.

ART: Find local art exhibits in museums and galleries that celebrate AANHPI artists. Or start by Ecosia-ing, perusing image results, and clicking on a thumbnail that jumps out at you. Follow the rabbit hole and read about that artist’s bio and art style. You just may discover your new favorite artist! Here is a great place to start.

MUSIC: Look up countless playlists that feature AANHPI musicians and have it on while working on unwinding at dinner. My favorite is Celebrating Asian American Voices on Apple Music. New-to-me artists I’ve discovered include Deb Never, The Linda Lindas, Mitski, and Eli Smart.

And here’s a bonus resource for you: A YouTube channel called Asian Boss. Led by a team of dedicated and empathetic journalists, they bring authentic news from all over Asia, featuring real people’s voices and stories. #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs

Now that we’ve got a fun AANHPI celebration playbook through my BAM! approach, I feel the need to leave you with this disclaimer: We are not a monolith. It’s important to recognize that the name alone, AANHPI, is the English language’s attempt to encompass SO many different countries, ethnicities, and identities. We are not a monolith. I encourage you to approach each identity with the recognition that although a lot of our cultures can overlap, each one has its own unique history and heritage that comprise that specific identity.

As you explore AANHPI cultures, remember to have fun and share your discoveries with others!

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