Paying tribute to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer
Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, observed annually in May, creates awareness of, and pays tribute to, the generations of Asians and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental to its future success. This year’s celebration is especially important, as it falls amid a worsening crisis of racism, violence and hate crimes against some of the 20 million Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islanders living in the U.S.

We condemn the violence and hatred aimed at this community, and seek to educate and celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander cultures. In solidarity with the diverse AAPI community, throughout this month we will be releasing stories on our campus newscenter that focus on some of the impactful research and creative work taking place on our campus.

  • You’ll learn about UC Santa Cruz’s Pilipino Cultural Celebration, which is turning 30 this year and marking the occasion with a digital play and interview video series featuring alumni of Bayanihan, a campus organization that promotes an understanding of the Filipino and Filipino-American experience.
  • You’ll read about Distinguished Economics Professor Nirvikar Singh’s leadership in the development of Punjabi language courses for the entire UC system.
  • You’ll discover the group of faculty and graduate students immersed in an oral history project in Watsonville that highlights Filipino migrants. The Tobera Project was developed by community leader Dioscoro “Roy” Recio. Associate Professor of Sociology Steve McKay and Assistant Professor of History Kathleen Gutierrez are leading UCSC’s work on the project, along with doctoral candidates Meleia Simon-Reynolds and Christina Ayson-Plank. Undergraduates Nick Nasser and Toby Baylon are helping conduct the oral history interviews. The project encapsulates the type of impactful work that unfolds regularly on our campus — faculty partnering with community groups on grassroots projects, with on-the-ground support from both graduate and undergraduate students.

We encourage you to visit our Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month landing page throughout the month as additional stories are posted.

We appreciate having this opportunity to honor and showcase the excellence of our Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander colleagues, students and friends. The history of AAPIs in the United States is not always told in our history books, so it is important for us to document the deep contributions this community has made to our campus and to American society. By highlighting them, we also hope to contribute to the voices challenging the hateful narrative that has taken root in many parts of this country. This violence is not new, and it intersects with the systemic violence that hurts Black, brown and other marginalized communities.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and other months like it, are opportunities for us to denounce hate, to make clear that a diverse, welcoming climate is a top priority for us, and to build coalitions that demonstrate how we can work together to foster an inclusive climate where our differences are valued and all feel that they belong.