A recap of an impactful Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Colorado proudly celebrated Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month with programs, fundraisers, and proclamations. May 2021 was an impactful month, in which the local AANHPI community was active and visible.
Under the leadership of Dr. DJ Ida and Dr. Rachele Espiritu, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock proclaimed May 10, 2021 to be Asian American and Pacific Islander Mental Health Day.
Both proclamations recognized the need to raise awareness about mental health, particularly in Asian communities, to destigmatize seeking help, and to advocate for policies that increase accessibility of mental health services.
The Colorado Health Foundation organized a discussion with Denver AAPI leaders titled: At the Heart of the Matter: The Hate Stops Here: Addressing Anti-Asian Acts on May 20. The discussion centered around complexities within AAPI communities and what can be done to curb the rise of discrimination and support the health and well-being of AAPIs. The webinar opened with a special performance by the Japanese Arts Network’s Founder Courtney Ozaki. Foundation President and CEO, Karen McNeil-Miller then facilitated a discussion with:
• Joie Ha – CORE: Community Organizing for Radical Empathy
• DJ Ida, PhD – National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
• Clarence Low – Asian Chamber of Commerce Colorado
• Chad Shomura, PhD – CU Denver, Department of Political Science
View the recording at: coloradohealth.org/heart-matter
Emerging AAPI leaders organized an AAPI Heritage Month celebration/rally on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol on May 22. High school students Aiden Reidy, 18, and Kai Vong, 17, felt a need to focus on anti-Asian hate with their greatest concern being the safety of elders in the community. AAPI community leaders and members shared their own stories or their family’s stories. Some shared their experiences with racism, and their hopes and goals to uplift more voices in the community. Vong is the youngest member of the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission and helped form Colorado Asian Pacific Islander United.