Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebration, Solidarity, Unity, and Creating Change with AAPI Heritage Month

Diversity & Inclusion Newsletter: Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This D&I Newsletter is dedicated to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to celebrate the history and impact the AAPI community has had on society. Across the U.S., the rise in Anti-Asian violence has taken a toll on this community, especially its women and elderly. In this newsletter, we hope to highlight how this community has shown resilience against those who seek to hurt them and stereotype them, and how they are pushing forward towards advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as how others can be vocal allies to stand in solidarity with this community to create change.


What is AAPI Heritage Month?

May is officially designated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States, celebrating the accomplishments, contributions, and histories of Asian/Pacific Americans. Asian/Pacific Americans are broadly understood to have ethnic ties to countries within the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island).

How Did AAPI Heritage Month Get Started?

Initially, a week was designated to celebrate Asian/Pacific American history. In 1977 U.S. Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House Resolution to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the U.S. Senate a month later. Neither bill passed, but eventually, President Jimmy Carter signed a law designating the first seven days of May as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week” beginning in 1979. Presidents passed annual proclamations for the celebration until 1990 when Congress passed a law extending the observance to the entire month of May. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. Originally called “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month,” the observance is now widely known as “Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”

May was chosen specifically to recognize the histories of Asian/Pacific Americans in commemoration of the immigration of the first Japanese people to America on May 7th,1843 as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10th,1869, as many of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is often observed by communities, organizations, and government offices holding festivals, education-based activities, and government-sponsored events.

What is the legacy of AAPI Heritage Month?

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is especially significant this year with the rise in Anti-Asian sentiment throughout the country. We hope that bringing this knowledge to our PMG community, will create an important wave of awareness and a desire to educate oneself more about the AAPI community. Through this proactive heritage month initiative, we can lay the groundwork for discussion, unity, and educational opportunities surrounding AAPI culture, heritage, histories, cultural diversity, contribution, and often underreported challenges of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Resources & Recommendations

Through the collective efforts and contributions of several Palisades Media Group team members, the D&I team has selected a handful of artists, content, and other resources to highlight for AAPI Heritage Month.

Asian American & Pacific Islander Brand Campaign (Netflix)

Where to see more: Netflix

About the Campaign: To coincide with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Netflix launched a campaign with AAPI creators and talent featured in a bold and unapologetic way - celebrating Asian creativity and the breadth of AAPI storytelling on screen. The campaign focuses on key passion points that reach the AAPI audience - Food, Dance, Music, and Culture. Netflix's media dollars are being invested in AAPI owned publishers to help show the AAPI audience that Netflix is committed to supporting and uplifting AAPI voices at every step in the process.

Why This is Important: AAPI culture isn't a monolith -- it's living, it's breathing, it's vibrant. This is Netflix's first major branding initiative that speaks directly to the AAPI audience. By making Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices as loud as we can, we can tell the world that being AAPI is more than one thing and goes beyond just this particular point in time; that this is more than a moment.  

Stay in touch with the rest of the campaign to know more about what the PMG team has been working on to support this initiative!

Lea Salonga (Broadway Actress)

Where to see her/hear her perform: YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music

About the Actress: Tony Award-Winning Broadway star of Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga, is a musically talented visual and performing artist/singer and actress. Relatively unknown, she auditioned and won the part as Kim in Miss Saigon back in 1991. She became the first Asian/Pacific Islander to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.  She is also the first Asian to portray Eponine and Fantine, typically Caucasian roles, in Les Misérables. Among her many other notable musical accomplishments, she of course is also well-known as the singing voices of Disney’s animated film princesses, Jasmine and Mulan.

Why She's Important: “I recommended her because she stands to be one of shining examples and inspirations to other Asians/Pacific Islanders--- who is also a national treasure for the people of the Philippines and of Filipino-Americans.  While she is a Broadway and Disney Legend (and that is an actual award, too), her success and influence has opened doors and other opportunities that have allowed other Asians to break into success in the music/Broadway world.” - Jonathan Bareng

Keali'i Reichell (Influential Hawaiian Musician)

Where to find his music: Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube

About Him: Not only was Keali'i Reichell the most popular Hawaiian artist of the 1990s, but he also holds the record for most albums sold in Hawaiian History. Keali’i dedicated his life to educating others about Hawaiian Culture and helped to usher in Hawaiian music to the continental United States (otherwise known as the United States Mainland).

Favorite Song: Kawaipunahele

The Brothers Cazimero (Influential Hawaiian Musicians)

Where to find their music: Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube

About Them: Together, upright bass player, Robert Cazimero, and 12-string acoustic guitar player, Roland Cazimero, were Hawaiian musical duo who made up the group The Brothers Cazimero. They were a cornerstone of the Hawaiian music scene, and have recorded over 20 albums.

Favorite Song: Pua Hone

Why it’s important: “I feel very fortunate to have been born and raised on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii.  For many years, Hawaii has been a wonderful melting pot of many Asian, Hawaiian, and Portuguese cultures.  Visitors also rave about the state’s great beaches, surf, weather, cuisine, etc.  However, one special cultural element often missed is beautiful music, specifically Hawaiian music. Artists Keali'i Reichel and the Brothers Cazimero are some of my favorite artists. Even though you may not understand Hawaiian, their vocals and melodies bring relaxation. Can you feel the island breezes now? Aloha and mahalo.” - Ralph Umetsu

Tanya Huang (Street Musician and Violinist)

Where to find her music: YouTube or directly from her website

About the Artist: Tanya Huang is both a violinist and a local celebrity for New Orleans; her beautiful music is enough to make anyone walking through the French Quarter stop in their tracks. She was born in Taiwan and grew up in America. Tanya has been playing the violin since the age of 6 and has performed on the streets of New Orleans for over 20 years (often alongside Dorise Blackmon under the group name Tanya & Dorise). Some also believe her to be the inspiration for one of the characters on the HBO show Treme, which was created by David Simon (creator of The Wire).

Her work: Shallow from "As Star Is Born" Cover

Why it's important: “Tanya is a perfect example of someone within the AAPI community who is ever so passionate about entertaining others. Not only is she treasured by the people of New Orleans, but also by those who have stopped and listened to her perform – giving them the feeling that for a fleeting moment, time doesn’t exist. While Tanya is not currently performing in public due to COVID, she has been putting on free shows over Zoom and Facebook Live and continues to be a shining light even during the pandemic. Like many other musicians who are unable to perform in public, she can be supported by purchasing CDs and other merch on her website.” - Jake Landy

Yelp Adds “Asian-owned” To Its List Of Business Profile Attributes

How to access this feature: When you open the Yelp App, all you have to do is search for “Asian Owned Restaurants” or “Asian Owned Businesses.” This feature is also available for Black and Women-Owned Businesses and Restaurants.

Why it’s Important: "Helping consumers show support and appreciation for Asian communities and businesses is more important than ever amid an alarming increase in violence targeting the Asian community. Therefore, Yelp has added “Asian-owned” to its list of available business profile attributes. This searchable, opt-in-only attribute enables businesses to self-identify as Asian-owned and is available free of charge. Google introduced a similar rollout earlier this year for Black-owned businesses that allow Black-owned businesses to show a special label in their product and shopping results within Google Search.

According to Yelp, searches for Asian-owned businesses were up 130% Y-o-Y when comparing February 2021 to February 2020. In addition to distinguishing your business, these attributes can make it easier for audiences that want to support diverse businesses to find them on Yelp. Yelp wants to make it easier for people to support and spend dollars with Asian-owned businesses they love. Asian-owned businesses should consider adding this feature to their Yelp store results." - Paul Komutanon

PMG Diversity Spotlight

JT Turner
Supervisor, Digital

AAPI Heritage Month is important to me because it’s a reminder of the progress that’s been made but also how much work is left to be done. My grandparents are Japanese and they were both put into internment camps during WWII just because of their race. When they were released, they had no ill feelings against the US and they still felt the American identity they had cultivated growing up. As time passes on, it's an important reminder to me to continue to tell their story because I know they wouldn’t. It’s important to me to dispel the notion that is so prevalent in Asian cultures which is to remain quiet, keep your head down and work hard. While I do believe in these values, I think it’s an opportunity for younger Asian Americans to be the voice that their parents or grandparents never had.

This is a picture of the internment camp where my grandparents were held. It is now a museum and listed US National Historic Site under the National Park service. I volunteered here for over 6 years, helping to clear rocks, dirt and rebuild barracks to simulate what life was like so people now can see what it would be like to be interned in the harsh conditions the US put Japanese Americans in.

Paul Komutanon
Sr. Director, Search

Why is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month important to me and our agency? To be honest, I had not realized that the month of May was AAPI Heritage Month. I’m an American-born Thai/Chinese and I’m more well versed on communities that I had no part in than the one that I identified most with. I have not been given a thorough education on the history of the community that I am a part of, and I know I am not alone. This is why AAPI Heritage Month is important to me and our agency. It brings much-needed awareness to a community that continues to be underrepresented, marginalized, and overlooked despite its growing prominence in the U.S.

My parents immigrated to Chicago, IL from Thailand in 1974 to provide a better living for my siblings and me. They provided us with a solid foundation and understanding of our Thai background. I want to make sure my future family has the same foundation and understanding but of the entire AAPI community. In addition, I want them to see themselves in the content of their curriculum as well as the people in our community. Identity and empowerment are important for me, but more importantly, my future family. AAPI Heritage Month is a reminder of that. Palisades Media Group has done a great job commemorating our diverse culture and recognizing AAPI Heritage month further cements that. The above image is of my Mom, Vanida (left), and my Dad, Kedpol (right) posing in front of Wat Thai Los Angeles during their recent visit.

Check out more PMG AAPI Heritage Month Spotlights here.

Community Outreach

Compassion in SGV is a volunteer organization created to support and protect citizens in the San Gabriel Valley communities. Brittney Au created Compassion in SGV based on a similar initiative founded in Oakland, in which volunteers are connected with elders. These young volunteers serve as chaperones and during various activities from grocery shopping, closing up storefronts, or simply walks around the neighborhood. Given the rise in attacks against AAPI elders, volunteers provide a sense of security during these vulnerable moments. With a young person there to help, Compassion in SGV believes those attacks would be less likely to happen. Due to the recent rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, their goal is to provide an overall sense of unity and security for the beloved San Gabriel Valley community members. Empowering others to stand up against hate is Brittney’s goal. "I think a lot of the community might feel powerless and helpless right now and I think our presence here can change that," Au said. "I hope we can continue to be a positive force within San Gabriel Valley." Put best by Spectrum News reporter Chace Beech, “a group walking towards a more compassionate world, one connection at a time.” Through compassion and care, they hope that they can be leading examples for future generations.


If you or someone you know is interested in their chaperone services, please do not hesitate to contact them at www.compassioninsgv.org

Ways To Help + Donate

Follow Compassion in SGV

Little Fatty

Location: 3809 Grand View Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood off Venice Blvd. stands Little Fatty. An escape to traditional Taiwanese and Chinese cuisine with a modern touch. Generous family-style plates of delicious barbeque pork, fried tofu, and various types of noodles, topped with spicy red chilies and fresh herbs spread out across the table, guaranteed to bring out the “little fatty” in you. After years of failed attempts at running several restaurants on the westside, David Kuo, whose nickname growing up was “xiǎo pang“ which translates to “little fatty”, found success after he returned to his roots to cook and share what he knew best. Little Fatty caters to those who want homestyle cooking with a little soul. Venture off the main road to give this place a try, you will not be disappointed.

Our Team’s Recommendations: Barbeque Spicy Pork, Fried Tofu, and their namesake, XO Fatty Noodles

IG: @littlefattyla