On May 2, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to pass a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, and co-authored by Chair Janice Hahn, to proclaim May 2023 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Since 1992, the U.S. has observed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May to celebrate and recognize the contributions, impact, and influence that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made.
About 16.6 million AAPIs live in the country, accounting for almost 6% of the total U.S. population. By 2050, it is projected that almost 10% of the U.S. population will be made up of AAPIs.
Compared to any other county in the country, L.A. County has by far the largest AAPI population at 1.5 million.
“As supervisor for the First District, I’m honored to represent the largest number of AAPI residents,” said Solis. “From ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown, and Thai Town to the cities of Monterey Park and Alhambra, to the unincorporated areas of Rowland Heights and Hacienda Heights, we enjoy a rich diversity of AAPI communities across L.A. County. May we celebrate their contributions and impact, as well as continue to lend our support through programs that help to uplift this community.”
“The Asian American Pacific Islander community has been part of the fabric of Los Angeles County for as long as the county has existed,” said Hahn. “We have seen a troubling rise in hate crimes against AAPI residents. It’s alarming, and has hit the AAPI community in Los Angeles County hard. This month, we not only want to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander heritage but also make sure that our AAPI residents are able to access the resources that the county offers to support their mental health and that they’re entitled to.”
Since March 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate coalition received nearly 11,500 reports of hate incidents against AAPIs from across the country, with half taking place in public venues, including streets, parks, and on transit. Building on his previous Increasing Safety for Public Transit Riders bill (SB 1161), State Sen. Dave Min has put forward Senate Bill (SB) 434, sponsored by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition, to require California’s top ten public transit systems to collect survey data as a critical first step towards improving ridership safety.
Collecting, analyzing, and publishing qualitative and quantitative data on the state of harassment on public transit will inform outreach activities and safety improvement strategies to serve riders who are underrepresented yet disproportionately impacted by street harassment.
The motion approved Tuesday directs L.A. County’s Chief Executive Office’s Legislative Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations branch to support SB 434.
In addition, seeing that AAPI communities in L.A. County face significant disparities in mental health, attributed to language barriers, cultural attitudes, and stigma, the motion instructs L.A. County’s Department of Mental Health to conduct a public outreach campaign, utilizing traditional, hyperlocal, ethnic, and social media, to raise awareness of L.A. County Mental Health Awareness Month.
Moreover, it requests the Department of Mental Health to work with the Chief Executive Office, community-based organizations, and federally qualified health clinics, to explore the expansion of the successful “Tea Time” initiative to other AAPI communities, and identify similar interventions that can be explored for other communities of color, including Latino/a, Black/African American, Native/Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ residents.
In response to the tragic mass shooting at Monterey Park, the Department of Mental Health launched the “Tea Time” initiative, which has been designed to break down barriers and address stigma among AAPI older adults with accessing mental health resources. This initiative has already resulted in an increase of AAPI older adults signing up for needed mental health support and resources.
To read the full motion, click here.