Collection: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month & Beyond

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the US. According to the official website:

“The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.”

In this collection, we feature 7 of our essential resources. Teachers, we invite you to use these resources beyond this month, so as to include the rich history and contributions of Asian-origin Americans into your lessons on a consistent basis. We hope to support the great work that you are already doing – please let us know if you found this helpful, and do feel free to send us any teaching ideas and lessons.

7 Essential Resources

Media Highlight Series: 9 Must Read Books by Asian-Origin Authors

In our Media Highlight series, we select pieces of media that explore the multifaceted nature of migration. In the second installment of this series, we focus on literature by a wide range of Asian-American authors. In supporting educators who want to explore these books, we align each with our Learning Arc, a recently developed framework.

Chinese Exclusion Documents

The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) was the first legislation that singled out a specific ethnic group to prevent migration to the US. It also prohibited Chinese residents in the US from obtaining U.S. citizenship. This act was a response to widespread anti-Chinese public sentiments and pressures from labor unions. In this collection, we highlight the history of Chinese exclusion in the US using a range of primary sources.

A Conversation with Asian-Americans on Race

This short film is part of a series called ‘Conversation Doc’ and was originally published in the NY Times Op Docs collection. It convened a wide range of individuals to ask them what being Asian-American means to them, something we invite educators to explore with the help of our reflection questions.

Have your students heard of Wong Kim Ark?

Wong Kim Ark’s victory in a groundbreaking Supreme Court case set a precedent guaranteeing birthright citizenship to everyone born in the US. His story is foundational to our national story, as well as to discussions and lessons on birthright citizenship, belonging and anti-immigrant prejudice.

How do you prove you are loyal?: Japanese Americans and WWII

During the Second World War, the United States government challenged the loyalty of Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants in the country. The US forcibly relocated hundreds of thousands of people of Japanese origin to internment camps, where they were incarcerated under poor conditions. Using this resource, we invite educators to use this resource to help students develop an informed perspective in a time when  questions around loyalty, citizenship, and belonging are resurfacing.

What Kind of Asian are You?

In his 2013 short film, artist Ken Tanaka explores identity and stereotypes through comedy. We recommend using it in discussions around countering racism and anti-immigrant prejudice. In this resource, we offer teaching ideas and reflection questions to complement the video.

Understanding Dr. Seuss’ Depictions of the ‘Other’ in his Political Cartoons

Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as Dr. Seuss, was known for his iconic children’s books. But during World War II, his political cartoons were very popular. In this resource, we pose questions to help students discuss and understand Dr. Seuss’ depictions of the ‘other’.