As we mark another commemoration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we have to acknowledge how this time feels different. A global pandemic has shaken our communities to the core, revealing long-standing and often unacknowledged inequalities. Our families in Atlanta, Indianapolis, and throughout the nation continue to shoulder the pain of losing loved ones to violence and harassment. Please remember to take time to support each other as we try to make sense of these times. Usually, these month-long events in May have been wonderful ways to gather up our voices to celebrate achievements. We would share songs, food, ritual, and stories. And while this year we grieve, let us also strive to find the humanity in each other. We wish to see the fullness of who we have been, who we are, and who we can still be. We are more than what has been done to us. We bear witness to and participate in calls for racial equality, justice, and much-needed kindness and healing. Our Asian American and Pacific Islander traditions demonstrate unity and care for each other. On behalf of everyone at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, I invite you to live out these ideals with us not only in May, but throughout the year.
Theodore S. Gonzalves, Ph.D.
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
The National Museum of American History + The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center + AARP
We Are American and We Stand Together: Asian American Resilience & Belonging
This digital program brings the stories and insights of the nation’s pre-eminent scholars and activists together with treasures from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to engage a broad audience in a deeper exploration of the past, present, and future of Asians in America. Over 23 million in number, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are now the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. But AAPI individuals, families, communities, and businesses have been disproportionately impacted, harmed, and even killed by the cascading crises of the global pandemic and the legacies of entrenched anti-Asian racism and discrimination. In this time of increasing fear and violence, we will celebrate, commemorate, and reflect on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by sharing the long history of Asian American resistance, and reaffirm our need to stand together as Americans.
Featuring: Erika Lee, Duncan Williams, Richard Lui, Ruby Ibarra, Erika Moritsugu, Angie Goff, Rep. Doris Matsui, Christine Chung, Lonnie Bunch, and more…
The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage + The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Music for the Moment - an Asian American Offering
This special one-hour program features Asian American women musicians and performers who draw on different deep cultural heritages and contemporary genres--from performance art and ritual, to hip-hop, rock, and singer-songwriter pop. Music heals and reveals. It anchors us to the toughest of realities while also letting loose our imaginations. For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we are honored to feature Dohee Lee, Ruby Ibarra, June Millington, and MILCK, with a special message from activist Amanda Nguyen.
Please continue scrolling for resources from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and across the Smithsonian.
Standing Together Against Hate
March 24, 2021
Even as we try to take in and understand the tragic news of the March 23, 2021 shooting in Boulder, Colorado, the Smithsonian Institution mourns the loss of eight people—seven of them women, six of whom were of Asian descent—who were killed when a gunman opened fire inside three spas located in Georgia. We extend our condolences and stand in compassion with the families and friends of Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun González, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue; and we share in the sorrow and outrage expressed by Asian American community members nationwide. It is clear that this is a tragedy at the confluence of misogyny and racism directed toward Asian and Asian American women.
History is replete with examples of heritage and gender being used as an excuse to dehumanize and isolate people. Asian and Asian American women have long been the victims of objectifying and degrading stereotypes, based on notions of dominance over people, places, and bodies. Such objectification denies them their dignity, their agency, and their humanity, making them particularly vulnerable to acts of violence.
At the Smithsonian, we condemn xenophobia, misogyny, and racial and gendered violence. Reaching for real systemic change, however, requires an unpacking of the entangled systems that perpetuate oppression. To these ends, the Smithsonian collaborates with communities and acknowledges the work of colleagues who are counteracting exploitative narratives and practices, uplifting marginalized voices, and sharing in the work of community care.
Organizations such as the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, Red Canary Song, Georgia NAACP, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Atlanta are among the many in Georgia grappling very directly with this tragedy. In support of critical work happening at the local level and in keeping with our mission to diffuse and increase knowledge, the Smithsonian offers educational resources and direct learning opportunities that we hope can contribute to deconstructing systemic oppression and affirm the dignity of all people. Through our scholarship, collecting, educational programming, training, and exhibitions, we will continue working to bridge communities and foster understanding and respect.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution,
and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
In solidarity with:
The following Smithsonian Employee Affinity Groups stand in solidarity:
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Alliance • Smithsonian African American Association • Smithsonian American Indian Employee Network • Smithsonian Latino Working Committee • Smithsonian Pride Alliance
Please continue scrolling for resources from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and across the Smithsonian.
Righting A Wrong: Japanese Americans And World War II Poster Exhibition: includes a link to our Educator's Guide. Within the guide is a link to the NMAH-created Learning Lab for their larger, related exhibit "Righting a Wrong." Direct link to that Learning Lab
In 2015, SITES and APAC partnered to travel the exhibition, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation that depicts Indian Americans and their contributions to the United States. As part of this exhibition, SITES collaborated with International Coalition of Sites of Conscience to create a facilitated dialogue toolkit to help venues open new conversations about the often difficult subjects of immigration, identity, race, and social justice.
I Want the Wide American Earth poster exhibition and educational resources. A broad look at the history of Asian immigration to America, and Asian American contributions to this nation
Their Stories: Lowell’s Youth and the Refugee Experience (Smithsonian Affiliations Learning Lab Resources, Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell, Massachusetts)
Twelve AAPI women with Smithsonian collection ties whose stories are integral to American history then and now, largely authored by Healoha Johnston.
In New York City's Chinatown, college student Regina Lee and other volunteers organized a neighborhood health fair to improve health literacy in their community.
Music & Migration: "We Are the Children" by Chris Iijima, Nobuko Miyamoto, and "Charlie" Chin
Learning Lab Collection--Explores music & migration; Asian American experiences, resistance, and music
A story map built on the ESRI platform that includes profiles of many AAPI artists who are among the masters of traditional arts recognized by the National Endowment for Arts as National Heritage Fellows
A Folklife Festival Blog Post & podcast
A Folklife Festival Blog Post & audio piece/podcast
2014 Festival program, which included metro D.C. diaspora participation, provided an opportunity for reunion among those sustaining traditional culture in China, as well as in the diaspora. It was a gathering of old and new friends, an experience in which people could explore connections and continuities through culture and art making.
2010 Festival program brought together people from diverse communities to highlight the breadth of traditions practiced by AAPIA cultures, making connections not only to each other, but also to the broader communities in which they live, work, and play.
2002 Festival program co-curated by Yo Yo Ma, exhibited ways in which the many cultures of Eurasia were brought closer together through a creative commercial and cultural exchange that continues in the lands of the Silk Road and beyond.
2000 Festival program featured a lecture on peace by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and participation by Tibetan American cuture bearers
1998 Festival program included diasora participation
1989 Festival program demonstrated how Hawaii's ethnic communities have retained and developed their individual identities that are expressed in the vitality of their traditions.
1986 Festival program included more than 50 Japanese and Japanese Americans who demonstrated the cultivation and myriad uses of rice found in the traditional folk culture in Japan, and how many of them have been retained in the U.S.
1980 Festival program explored how new immigrants from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia find ways of preserving and adapting their cultural heritage in the United States.
A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America, a 1973 Paredon Records release, is widely recognized as the first album of Asian American music. Chris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, and William “Charlie” Chin deliver their activist message through simply–recorded acoustic guitars and vocals, with the occasional accompaniment of bongos, bass, and di zi, a Chinese flute.
The Asian Pacific America Series is a musical exploration of multiple generations of diverse experiences. The series includes a broad range of styles, from traditional to popular, highlighting how music connects people to shared senses of history, community, and place:
This album encompasses myriad facets of Jain’s identity both as a first-generation South Asian–American and as a global musician, from his own family’s immigration story to his eclectic musical upbringing.
Nobuko Miyamoto is an icon of Asian American music and activism. 120,000 Stories collects powerful new songs, reinterpretations of old ones, and recordings from across her career. They chronicle difficult histories, they celebrate resilient traditions, and most of all, they endeavor to connect communities.
No-No Boy is the musical project of Vietnamese American singer and scholar Julian Saporiti. On his Smithsonian Folkways debut 1975, named after the year Saigon fell, Saporiti investigates his own family heritage as well as life in WWII Japanese internment camps, immigrant detention centers and refugee camps in 2020, and other stories of immigration
In 1973, three young activists in New York City recorded A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America. Singing of their direct lineage to immigrant workers as well as their affinity with freedom fighters everywhere, Chris Kando Iijima, Nobuko JoAnne Miyamoto, and William “Charlie” Chin recorded the experiences of the first generation to identify with the term and concept Asian American
Following on the heels of Hawaii’s cultural renaissance (1960-70s), the 1989 Smithsonian Folklife Festival brought Hawaii’s dynamic multicultural traditions to center stage on the National Mall.
Asians and Pacific Islanders make up the majority of the population of Hawai'i. Music has always played a central role for all these communities.
World-War-II-era artifacts that represent community life of incarcerated Japanese Americans inspired these personal stories that reveal the complexities of living in the camps and striving to maintain some semblance of normalcy. Featuring Noriko Sanefuji, Museum Specialist at the National Museum of American History
Choreography and portraiture are unique forms of storytelling through which artists can communicate universal narratives and express diverse perspectives without words. Featuring Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Choreographer-in-Residence at the National Portrait Gallery
2018 Learning Lab Collections: a series of educational resources focusing on Asian American history and culture, created by Smithsonian educators, Affiliate museum educators and classroom teachers during workshops hosted across the country in 2018.
Japanese American Incarceration - Focus on the Assembly Centers: a Learning Lab Collection from the Japanese American National Museum about Japanese American incarceration. This collection came from a series of trainings with Smithsonian Affiliate museums and their localeducators to enhance the teaching of Asian American history and culture.
Emma Tenayuca: La Pasionaria (RIM@SI): a Learning Lab Collection from the Institute of Texan Cultures. This collection was created to support a program with Smithsonian Affiliate museums in Texas to aid teachers in using digital museum resources to teach Ethnic Studies. series of educational resources focusing on Asian American history and culture, created by Smithsonian educators, Affiliate museum educators and classroom teachers during workshops hosted across the country in 2018.
The Art of Gaman: Storytelling, Musical and Dance Performance, and Hands-On Activities Demonstrations: a Learning Lab Collection from an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month family day in the Grand Salon of the Renwick Gallery of Art. The festival was created to complement the Renwick exhibition, "The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946." For the full "History and Heritage Monthes" video series, see https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAD55B633E0F109
A Fusion of Culture and Identity: Joe Bataan’s Latin Boogaloo Music: Joe Bataan, a musician of Afro-Filipino descent, who was born and and raised in Spanish Harlem, became one of the founders of Latin Boogaloo in New York City. What started out as a local music by young folks has become a global phenomenon.
Representation of Girls - Gender Diversity, Empowerment and Stereotypes: this topical Learning Lab collection looks at girls' diversity and empowerment, as well as gender stereotypes. Examples below are depictions of girls--both antiquated and modern--domestic and career expectations, educational opportunities, personal grooming and beauty, emotions and attitudes, and traditional representations.
Paterson Public Schools (School #21) - Theme - Social Justice: SCLDA Teacher Partner #APAArtsIntegration Learning Lab collection includes artwork, artifacts, images, and resources that addresses the theme of social justice. Asian-Pacific American Artists and Artwork will be highlighted along with contemporary artists and artwork that depict the theme of social justice.
Once we know and accept we have bias, we can begin to recognize our own patterns of thinking. With awareness and a conscious effort, we have the power to change how we think and to challenge the negative or harmful biases within ourselves.
By considering each other’s lives, experiences, and perspectives, we allow a community to be not only about what we have in common but what makes us different. Community is a gateway to better understand our own lives and the lives of others and creates an essential foundation for people working toward common goals.
NMAAHC/Library of Congress interview features David and Satoko Ackerman detailing how they traveled to Selma and participated in the Selma to Montgomery march at the urging of their classmate, Jesse Jackson
By standing up to injustice over six decades ago, Recy Taylor inspired generations of men and women to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable. NAACP activist Rosa Parks investigated Recy Taylor’s case, garnering extensive coverage in the black press and bringing nationwide attention to issues of racial violence. The bravery of these women helped to mobilize communities and build coalitions that would become the pillars of the civil rights movement.
A pinback button supporting David Dinkins 1989 New York City mayoral campaign.
Iona Rozeal Brown’s work has been referred to as a visual mash-up that juxtaposes elements of Japanese art and culture with African American hip hop pictures and fashion.
I AM: Contemporary Women Artists of Africa - features the contributions of 27 featured artists, whose works offer insightful and visually stunning approaches to matters of community, faith, the environment, political, colonial encounters, racism, identity, and more.
Heroes: Principles of African Greatness - conveys the journeys, struggles, and triumphs of exceptional individuals who rejected enslavement, resisted the colonial presence, promoted liberation, and insisted on racial equality.
Backtalk: Artists on Native, African, and African American Stereotypes - developed in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this online exhibition addresses the persistence of racial and cultural stereotypes.
AfricAsia: The National Museum of African Art is collaborating with the National Museum of Asian Art in our AfricAsia project, which included a workshop and virtual symposium, as well as a forthcoming publication. The project explores the long history of creative engagement between Africa and Asia. Contributions by scholars and artists consider social, economic, political and cultural exchanges, as well as cultural and artistic responses to the enduring legacies of the colonial presence.
Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories - the work of NMAH advisor Grace Young, featured in Smithsonian Food History Weekend, October 2020
Viral Histories series, organized by Dr. Theo Gonzalves:
Survival, Compassion, and Connection: Jung Woo Kim on Organizing through Mutual Aid: from NMAH's new Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like series on undocumented organizing
Refugee Communities: A modest collection of stories in Stories of 2020 contributed by former refugees from Bhutan and Nepal.
Clothes and Heritage: Chinese American Clothes from the Virginia Lee Mead Collection: The Virginia Lee Mead Collection that tells the story of Lee B. Lok and Ng Shee, a Chinese American couple who immigrated from Tai Shan, China and lived in New York City's Chinatown.
Forgotten Workers: The construction of the Transcontinental Railroad was an engineering feat of human endurance, with the western leg built largely by thousands of immigrant Chinese laborers.
Becoming US: Belonging: NMAH’s educational curricula “Becoming US” addresses a number of the issues at play, especially the case studies in the “Belonging” section.
Featured on the official 2020 JAM poster is pianist, band leader, and composer-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi, whose vital contributions to the art of big band jazz earned her the title of NEA Jazz Master in 2007. Born in Manchuria, Akiyoshi first moved to Japan with her parents at the end of World War II, and then to the United States in 1956 to study at Berklee School of Music in Boston. Following a series of performances in top New York venues, in 1973 she and her husband, saxophonist/flutist Lew Tabackin, formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. Known for her uniquely textural big band compositions and Japanese influence, Akiyoshi has received 14 Grammy Award nominations and was the first woman to win Best Arranger and Composer awards in Down Beat magazine's annual Readers' Poll. The artist for the 2020 JAM poster is Wynter Jackson, a senior visual arts student at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Pianist, band-leader, and composer-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi has made a vital contribution to the art of big band jazz. Born in Manchuria, Akiyoshi moved to Japan with her parents at the end of World War II. She came to the United States in 1956 to study at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. In 1973, she and her husband, saxophonist/ flutist Lew Tabackin formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra.
Educating for Global Competence with Contemporary Asian Art: What is global competence? What are the skills and dispositions of globally competent students? What role can art play in educating students to achieve global competence? Teachers can use this Learning Lab Collection as a resource for students to explore themes of global importance in the arts of Asia. The collection features two works of contemporary Asian art at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery as well as several tools for students to use in examining and reflecting on the works, such as Visible Thinking Routines, Artful Thinking Routines, and Global Thinking Routines. The rationale and process for each routine are described to help the teacher practice. The collection also includes artist interviews and other contextual information about the works of art for teachers and students to deepen their understanding.
Teaching China with the Smithsonian: This resource supports educators everywhere in engaging and inspiring students through Chinese art, history, and culture. Better understand the richness of one of the world’s oldest civilizations through featured museum objects; videos of art-making traditions; and supporting resources that link art to world history, social studies, and language arts.
Lunar New Year: Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. It is the most important holiday in China, and it is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population. This page gathers educational resources, personal stories, and art activities representing the richness of traditions and celebrations across cultures.
Personal Stories about Tea in Chinese Culture: In this video, Hollie Wong, the owner of Ching Ching CHA Tea House in Washington, DC, shares her favorite teas while she discusses why she decided to immigrate to the United States from Hong Kong and open a tea house here. Wong is joined by three other tea lovers originally from Beijing, Shanghai, and Taiwan who share their attachment to tea culture.
This is Us: How can we guide student inquiry of identity through the arts? Explore the themes of identity, community, and home in this Learning Lab Collection based on works of art displayed in the Freer and Sackler exhibition My Iran: Six Women Photographers (August 10, 2019–February 9, 2020). Students will reflect on their identities and feelings of home through an art activity that uses the metaphor of a suitcase: a variation of creating a self-portrait or identity artifact. This collection includes teaching strategies, object inquiry questions for students to complete, and a lesson plan for creating an identity artifact.
The Studio: The Studio offers a digital museum space to hear from artists through virtual visits, engaging conversations, and special projects. Join us as we learn about works in progress and consider the impact of these turbulent times on artistic practices.
Mapping the Future World: Reimagining Art in DC and Seoul: Transformer's Sister Cities project has connected artists based in Washington, DC, and Seoul, South Korea, to build dialogue, connectedness, inspiration, and insight during this uncertain time. Responding to how the coronavirus is radically remapping our world, both literally and figuratively, Transformer invited eight artists to reimagine the future world and share their experiences.
Join the Curator: A Conversation with Annu Palakunnathu Matthew: To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, Indian artist and scholar Annu Palakunnathu Matthew sheds light on a lesser-known aspect of that conflict through her recent work based on archival photographs of Indian soldiers.
Be Water: The Legacy of Bruce Lee: “Be water,” Bruce Lee’s famous advice to be either strong or yielding depending on the circumstances, was adopted as a tactic by Hong Kong’s street protesters in their battles with the police, proving that Lee’s influence is no less relevant today than it was during his brief life. Lee, one of the first non-white action stars who often went toe –to toe against racist foes in his films, was always a hero to people of color in the United States and around the world. In light of the protest movement in Hong Kong and the Black Lives Matter protests here in the United States, it is a perfect time to take a fresh look at Lee’s life and his influence on social justice movements.
Meet the Women Behind Maggie and Heart: Yi Ok-seop and Jeong Ga-young discuss their bold, eccentric, female-driven comedy-dramas, Maggie and Heart, along with Jeong’s Heart costar, Lee Suk-hyeong.
No Data Plan: A Conversation with Miko Revereza: Since moving to Los Angeles from Manila with his family, Revereza has lived in the United States illegally for over twenty-five years. Revereza narrates the history of his family and reflects on his own anxiety during the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown as he films the claustrophobic interior of the train, the wide-open American landscape flowing by, and the people he meets along the way.
New Asia Chamber Music Society: Four young virtuosos perform fresh arrangements of Japanese folk songs; music by Asian and Asian American composers for violin, cello, piano, and erhu (Chinese fiddle); and Beethoven’s Quartet for Piano and Strings in E-flat, in honor of the composer’s 250th birth year anniversary. This recording was made especially for the Freer and Sackler for this debut broadcast and includes commentary by the composers and performers.
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