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San Diego Celebrates Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American Pacific Island Heritage Month Sign Hanging in the Convoy District of Kearny Mesa in May 2021.
Melissa Mae
Asian American Pacific Island Heritage Month Sign Hanging in the Convoy District of Kearny Mesa in May 2021.

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States.

This month commemorates the first immigration of Japanese to the U.S., and marks the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, whose workers were mostly Chinese immigrants.

San Diego Celebrates Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

In San Diego, the month is being celebrated in several ways. Pacific Arts Movement has been showing films about this diverse community. Executive Director Kent Lee said he hopes to inspire a more compassionate society through media arts, saying they "offer the community an opportunity to understand sort of the history and the context. And I think it comes at a critical time when we are evaluating the impact that we’ve seen during the pandemic on these communities in particular.”

San Diego Celebrates Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The Asian Business Association held a blood drive to kick off AAPI Heritage Month. The Association’s business advisor Wesley Quach said he wants this month to be positive and hopeful.

“It acknowledges us as Americans who just so happen to be of Asian/Pacific Islander descent," Quach said. "It’s acknowledging our contributions to this country. It’s also acknowledging where we came from and basically what makes America great... is that... we come from all parts of the world.”

Support for Asian-owned businesses is another theme. Cross Street Chicken and Beer General Manager Wilson To said people can celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by supporting the food hub in the Convoy District of Kearny Mesa.

“I love to see that there’s awareness coming out to that community and seeing our community come together and support each other here in San Diego and all across the country,” To said.

A report from the Federal Reserve says 90 percent of Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. lost revenue last year, compared to 85 percent for Black-owned businesses, 81 percent for Hispanic-owned and 77 percent white-owned.

2020 also brought an increase of anti-Asian hate incidents. The San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Coalition formed during the pandemic in response to that increase. One of the group's goals is to strengthen the voice of the AAPI community in San Diego through communication, collaboration and advocacy.