May is AAPI Heritage Month

May 3, 2021
Janelle Wavell-Jimenez

M ay is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States. We felt we should honor our community, especially in light of the recent hate crimes towards Asian American people. In March, a white man in Atlanta targeted three massage parlors and murdered eight people--six of them were Asian women. Not to mention, a year of scapegoating Asian people for COVID-19 and a rise in hate crimes against AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander), particularly towards the elderly.

Sadly, while these stories might be front of mind for many Americans, Asian Americans have a long history of being marginalized in the U.S. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese internment to the Trump Administration using purposely provocative, racist language like “China Flu”, the AAPI community has been used as scapegoats for disease or moral panics for literally centuries now.  In my own family, my father's side has been in the United States since the 1890s where a great-great grandfather exhibited in a human zoo at the St. Louis World’s Fair, was made to eat dog meat, and live in a fake village to entertain white visitors. But despite the historic inhumane treatment by other Americans and the American government, AAPI people have continued to fight for American ideals (literally too, my father’s side has fought in every war for the U.S. going back to the Spanish American war).

We wanted to honor our community in what small way we can, so for the entire month of May, we will be donating 100% of our net proceeds (layman’s terms: our profit) from every mask we sell to the official GoFundMe for the AAPI Community Fund - we chose this fund because there’s 1) a trustworthy Board of Directors comprised of AAPI people who are well known and respected in the nonprofit sector 2) that same Board would do a much better job at  appropriately distributing the funds to those organizations most in need.

It may take years to have our voices heard, but we believe every voice that is full of love, compassion, and kindness can cut through the darkness of hate and division. We hope you can take this month to join us in elevating the voices of Asian Pacific Americans.

How else can you help?

1) Donate directly to the AAPI Community Fund, or other organizations such as Stop AAPI Hate or Asian Americans Advancing Justice (both of whom are rated 4 out of 5 stars by Charity Navigator).

2) Report any hate crimes you witness to the FBI. Support and encourage anyone you know who has been the victim of a hate crime to report it to authorities immediately. Many elderly people in AAPI communities come from countries with oppressive governments and may fear retaliation for reporting crimes.

3) Listen to AAPI people’s storiesto understand where we’re coming from. We are Americans, but are often considered “forever foreigners” when many of us, quite literally, helped build America. Linked above are some events in American history you may not have studied. For more recent stories, watching movies and shows made by AAPI people goes a long way in our fight for media representation. For recent AAPI stories, we recommend the Oscar nominated film Minari. For TV shows, we recommend To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which stars AAPI actress Lana Condor and is based on a book by Jenny Han.

4) Support AAPI owned businesses. Stellari is just one of over a million AAPI owned businesses in the country. Supporting Stellari certainly means a lot to us, but we really encourage you to shop locally. Your community likely has a local restaurant, franchise, or small business owned by someone in the AAPI community--no matter how small your town might be. Especially given the double blow of the economic impact of Covid AND a rise in anti-Asian sentiment, local AAPI owned businesses could really use your support.

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Author

Janelle Wavell-Jimenez

Janelle makes digital clothing in video games, and real clothing in real life. She founded Stellari in 2020.

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