Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

April 27, 2023

Dear Brandeis Community,

May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the history, culture and achievements of the United States. It is a time to honor the diverse cultures of the AAPI community as part of the fabric of American society. It is also a chance to raise our awareness about the experiences and challenges faced by the AAPI community, including discrimination, racism, and xenophobia.

This is even more important today as we see continuing acts of violence and hate. This celebration started out as Asian Pacific Heritage Week in the late 1970s. The choice of May was significant as it marked the anniversary of the first-known immigration of Japanese people to the United States in 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, which was built largely by Chinese immigrant laborers. Over time, the week-long celebration evolved into a month-long observance, and in 1992, the official name was changed to Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Since then, it has been recognized and celebrated annually in May, not just in the United States but also in other countries with significant AAPI populations. At Brandeis, we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month as part of our commitment to fostering a welcoming community. Our university was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community at a time when Jews and others were discriminated against — which is why diversity and inclusion is so important to our identity today. For more information about the evolution of AAPI studies and engagement, please visit the AAPI Timeline, which is one project in a series produced by students to preserve the histories of people of color at Brandeis, and featured on the Black Space Portal.

Learn about the activities of the Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA), the Third World Coalition, and the work to establish Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Studies at Brandeis. This project also features ten issues of the Eastern Tide literary magazine. The timeline was researched and written by Ellie Tang Kleiman '21 and built by Khadija Tirmazi '23 and Maggie McNeely, university archivist. In addition, we have some exciting programming taking place this week and next week. Please join us for campus programs celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander experiences in our community:

Why It Is Not OK to Ask "Where Are You From?": Racism and Asian American History

12:30-5 p.m., Friday, April 28, 2023
Rapaporte Treasure Hall | Goldfarb-Farber Library and Zoom livestream

  • Launch Party
    For the Brandeis Asian American Student Association’s literary arts magazine, Connections
    7:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, April 28
    Rapaporte Treasure Hall|Goldfarb-Farber Library
  • Heller CommUNITY Gathering
    Join us for reflections on the contributions and experiences of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community for AAPI Heritage Month.
    12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 2
    Zinner Forum | Heller School of Social Policy & Management

We look forward to celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month together. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Brandeis community to celebrate our diversity and show our support for one another.

In solidarity,

Aida Yuen Wong
Head of the Division of the Creative Arts
Nathan Cummings and Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Chair in Fine Arts
Professor of Fine Arts and East Asian Studies

Harleen Singh
Senior Associate Provost for Faculty & Global Affairs
Director, Women's Studies Research Center
Associate Professor of Literature, South Asian Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

LeManuel Lee Bitsóí
Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Associate Research Professor of Health: Science, Society and Policy