AAPI/APIDA Heritage Month

Last week the Early Childhood Education Assembly of the National Council for Teachers of English hosted a Twitter Chat on Asian American and Pacific Islander literacies in early childhood. Joanna Ho (Eyes That Kiss In The Corner), Minh Lê (Drawn Together), Mohit Mehta (University of Texas Austin) and Dr. Noreen Naseem Rodriguez (University of Iowa) were special guests and helped us guide the conversation with wisdom and love. We also shared resources. Read more on Wakelet.

I am always grateful for ways to increase my knowledge and understanding of Asian and Pacific Islander communities as it’s a gap in my teaching and learning. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US. The acronym APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American) is also in use as a pan-ethnic classification. Desi (They-See) refers to people of South Asian heritage. I think that during AAPIHM it’s often the case that East Asian (American) histories and literatures are covered more extensively than South Asian, South East Asian and Pasifika histories and literatures. I feel uneasy talking about the reasons why this is so as I feel I fall on superficial comments regarding migration patterns and historical factors. I don’t want to reduce the topic to facts and demographics outside of people’s stories. Dr Noreen Naseem Rodriguez has a section on her website on Asian American History. It’s an excellent resource. There are more and more books coming out that center APIDA and importantly there are many #OwnVoices (Corinne Duyvis) authors and illustrators. I defer to the people I follow on Twitter and resources that are posted. I realize too that I know a lot more about what is available in the US and less about what we have available here. The migration histories of APIDA are relatively similar when you talk about the US or Australia. I just don’t know enough to write more about it here.

Of course just as February should never be the only time you talk about Black History (and Present and Future) [also read-September: Hispanic Heritage Month; March: Women’s Month; November: Native American Heritage Month] APIDA history, culture and literature should be present in all classrooms all through the year. Minh Lê talked about AAPI children’s literature being “Robust and Revelatory”. He also talked about “Depth and Breadth”. Most of my library is in SF (also at Coleman-see entry on libraries) so I can’t easily draw on what I have. I do have some books with me but they’re in Melbourne so I can’t pull on them here in Adelaide. I wanted to at least get this going as I am going to look for a book a day to write about that centres APIDA (the final A can also be Australia).

Also have a look at Tricia Ebarvia and Kim Parker’s #31DaysIBPOC: “a month-long movement to feature the voices of Indigenous and Teachers of Color as writers and scholars”. It’s the second year it’s been running. Edi Campbell curates children’s literature on her blog Crazy Quilt Edi and last year she hosted a month long series where non-AAPI people chose books by AAPI authors they wanted to share. I can’t find that easily now but I do have this list of Young Adult authors who are Asian and Pacific Islander from her blog.

So to me!


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