SAN FRANCISCO - Asian Pacific American Heritage month started in May of 1978 but, Bay Area AAPI community leaders say this year may be one of the most important celebrations.
"This month as a time of celebration has existed for over 30 years but this is a year like no other," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American to hold this post. "This is a really important month where we can rally support, build bridges, strengthen relationships to attack those forces of hate which are so harmful and so painful right now."
Since the start of the pandemic, the AAPI community has experienced a rash of violent attacks.
In spite of it all, the AAPI community and allies came together in San Francisco's SOMA district on Sunday to kick off a month of celebrating that community.
Bonta spoke at the event and said celebrating and supporting the AAPI community may be more important now than ever.
"These moments, like today, of coming together, standing strong, denouncing and condemning that hate is so important," said Bonta.
"We decided that it’s really an important year to be out in the neighborhood and to showcase the many cultural districts that we have in San Francisco," said APA Heritage Foundation's Claudine Cheng.
Cheng helped put together the event and said the foundation has come up with more ways than one to celebrate the month.
"There is something for every generation and every age," says Cheng.
From art to film to activism, Cheng says you're sure to find something of interest. But, if you can't make it to an event, you can always donate.
A national movement in AAPI philanthropy, Give in May, launched May first and is running the entire month of May, offering more than 170 nonprofits to choose from.
"They’re representing 20 states in 55 cities," said Audrey Yamamoto, Asian Pacific Fund.
But if you can't give money, Yamamoto suggests that allies look into the bystander training offered by Advancing Justice.
She also suggests simply acknowledging that your AAPI peers may not be ok.
"We may look ok on the outside, but underneath the surface we are struggling with a heightened fear and anxiety just being outside," Yamamoto.
State Sen. Scott Weiner attended the celebration in SOMA on Saturday and said being an ally is about supporting each other and this month is a good place to start.
"An attack on any of our communities is an attack on every community," Weiner said.