April 10, 2023 1:18 PM
by Sharon Wong
May 1 marks the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of the AAPI community. This month can also be a time for all Americans to actively participate in educating themselves about Asian and Pacific Island culture. Self-education could include reading a book, watching a documentary, or talking to someone who lived through challenging times in the U.S. Learning about the history and hardships of another culture is a good starting point in one’s journey to celebrating that culture.
You can get a taste of Asian culture in the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once, the winner of a record-breaking seven academy awards this year, but you'll gain a richer understanding of Asian and Pacific Island culture by learning about the long history of injustice faced by AAPI people in the U.S. Some of these grievances include the Page Act of 1875, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982.
After gaining some knowledge of the challenges, you can celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by joining one or more of the AAPI activities curated by the Coalition of Asians & Pacific Employees of Santa Monica (CAPE SM). Activities are:
- May 9, 5:30 p.m., Council Proclamation of AAPI Heritage Month: The City Council will present a proclamation declaring the month of May as AAPI Heritage Month to Anna Wong, niece of the famous actress and former Santa Monica resident, Anna May Wong. Watch in-person at City Hall or view the livestream on the City’s YouTube channel.
- May 12, 8 p.m., Whats That Emoji? at The Crow, 2525 Michigan Ave., located at Bergamot Station. Aparna Nancherla (Fox, HBO, Comedy Central) headlines the night and features Olivia (Mayumi) Hill and other AAPI comedians as they celebrate the AAPI community. The Crow is female/mom/comic-owned and operated, and ticket holders to the show get 10% off at Birdie G’s restaurant and bar directly behind The Crow!
- May 14, Crazy Woke Asians Kung POW Festival at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., featuring 30-plus Asian American comedians! The event will raise funds for Seniors Fight Back and the Chinatown Service Center.
- May 15 – 31, Lighting of Historic City Hall: City Hall will be illuminated in red, gold, blue, and green lights representing colors common in themes across Asian and Pacific Islander cultures.
- May 16, 7 - 8 p.m., Virtual Book Discussion: Meet and chat with Joe Ide, crime novelist and author of the award-winning IQ book series. The latest book in the series, Fixit, will be released May 9, and Snoop Dogg has signed on to executive produce a forthcoming TV series based on IQ. Follow the Library on Twitter @SantaMonicaLibr or on their website for more details.
- May 19 – 20, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Library of Congress Veterans History Project at the Main Library. The Library of Congress celebrates AAPI Heritage Month by collecting stories of AAPI veterans. Give your oral history, which will become part of the permanent collections of the Library of Congress. The event is open to all U.S. vets, regardless of race or ethnicity. Volunteers are also needed to conduct oral history interviews, operate cameras, and assist veterans. No experience is necessary; training provided. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 707-1819 to reserve your interview time or volunteer.
- May 20, 2 - 3 p.m., Melissa de la Cruz Book Discussion at the Montana Branch Library. Melissa de la Cruz discusses her page-turning new adult novel, Going Dark, with Stephan Lee, author of the buzzy K-POP Confidential novel series. Going Dark is a twisty, ripped-from-the-headlines thriller about a social media influencer who goes missing while on a road trip with her boyfriend. Melissa will also share info on her role as founder and principal of Melissa de la Cruz Studio, a new venture she recently founded with Disney Publishing. A book sale and signing follows the authors' discussion.
- May 23, 11:30 a.m - 2 p.m., Rhythm and Spice: Join CAPE SM at beautiful Ken Genser Square at City Hall for a lunch event featuring food trucks and performers that offer just a taste of a few cultures from the AAPI community.
- May 29, 9 a.m., Bay Cities Joint Memorial Day Service at Woodlawn Cemetery honoring Japanese American WWII veterans. The service will be held in front of the Japanese Pioneers Ireito near the 14th Street driveway. 2023 will mark the 64th anniversary of the Ireito monument that was built in 1959 by Nikkei from Santa Monica, Venice, and West LA.
- May 30, 6 - 7 p.m., Santa Monica Reads 2023 Virtual Book Discussion: The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee. Join the community discussion of Heather McGhee’s nonfiction title, which illustrates how racism is harmful to everyone and makes the argument that we all have an interest in fighting it. Register in advance for this discussion. Overview: Santa Monica Reads 2023 (May 1 - June 2): This year, the Santa Monica Reads Program has chosen to explore Heather McGhee’s 2022 book, The Sum of Us, which illustrates how racism is harmful to everyone and makes the argument that we all have an interest in fighting it. When people unite across racial and ethnic lines, McGhee argues, there’s a solidarity dividend that helps everyone. Free copies of The Sum of Us, both the version for adults as well as the version for young readers, will be available to those planning to participate in Santa Monica Reads, beginning May 1 while supplies last. Copies of the title are also available to borrow. Use your library card to access resources online by logging into your account and placing a hold on one of the physical titles or download the eBook or audiobook via Libby. Need a library card? Visit one of our in-person locations and bring your valid photo ID.
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