Celebrating the Contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders: A House Resolution

The U.S. House of Representatives recently introduced a resolution (H. Res. 1228) to recognize the significance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This resolution honors the invaluable contributions these communities have made to the history, culture, and progress of the United States. A House Resolution (HR) is a formal statement or decision adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives to express the opinions, intentions, or sentiments of the House. They can recognize individuals or groups, or declare national observances.

Resolution to Recognize and Celebrate
The House Resolution acknowledges the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs) to U.S. history and culture. It also celebrates May as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, based on historical events like the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, largely built by Chinese laborers. The AANHPI population in the U.S. has grown rapidly, with Asian Americans increasing by 55.5% and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders by 30.8% from 2010 to 2020.

Key Anniversaries and Contributions

The House Resolution also commemorializes relevant anniversaries, and also recognizes notable government figures such as Dalip Singh Saund, Daniel K. Inouye, Patsy T. Mink, and Vice President Kamala D. Harris. Similarly, it also issues commemorative quarters for figures like Anna May Wong (first Chinese American film star in Hollywood who gained international recognition), and Patsy Mink, and the establishment of a commission to study the creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture.

Recent Increase in Anti-Asian Hate CrimesSince March 2020, there has been a dramatic increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. In 2020 and 2021, there were 124% and 339% increase in Anti-Asian hate crimes respectively. Over 11,500 hate incidents have been reported since the start of the pandemic through March 2022, according to Stop AAPI Hate.

Historical Context of Anti-Asian Discrimination

The House Resolution also calls out discrimination against Asian Americans in the United States, especially during crises, including Legislative Acts such as the Page Act of 1875 (Restricted the entry of Asian women, effectively prohibiting Chinese women from immigrating and limiting Chinese family formations in the U.S.); Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (The first law to explicitly exclude an entire ethnic group from immigrating to the U.S.); Executive Order 9066 (Authorized the forced relocation and incarceration of approximately 120,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry during World War II); Sikh Temple Shooting of August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin (A white supremacist killed six people and wounded four others); etc.

In response to the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, Congress passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on May 20, 2021.

The Significance of This Resolution

This House Resolution serves as an important acknowledgment of the diverse and impactful contributions of AANHPI communities to the United States. It provides an opportunity for Americans to celebrate and learn about the rich cultural heritage and history of these groups, while also recognizing the challenges they have faced and continue to overcome.

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