Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are an integral part of the American cultural mosaic, encompassing a wide range of diversity. AAPI communities consist of approximately 50 distinct ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages, with connections to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, and other Asian and Pacific Islander ancestries.
As of the 2020 Census, 24 million people identified as Asian and 1.6 million identified as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, either as their only identity or in combination with another identity.
Ethnic and communal identity is considered a notable protective mental health factor for many AAPIs. The sense of communal identity, connections, belonging and family bonds is a strong predictor of resilience while facing life’s challenges. Studies have shown that a strong sense of ethnic identity is linked to lower suicide risks and predicts higher resilience in the face of racial discrimination, which is, unfortunately, an issue for many in this population.
On the other hand, second-generation AAPI immigrants may face challenges in their cultural identity, struggling to balance their familial ties to traditional cultural values with the pressure to assimilate to mainstream American society. Additionally, an emphasis on community identity can create a strong burden of expectations, which may increase stigma and shame if a person doesn’t meet those expectations. READ MORE
It’s important to recognize that the term “AAPI” (Asian American / Pacific Islander) encompasses a wide range of countries, ethnicities, nationalities, and identities. Many different communities within AAPI label face their own unique challenges: from the trauma faced by those who survived wars in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam; Japanese Americans who remember the internment camps of the WW2 era; or the anxiety felt by the children of first-generation immigrants to reconcile their cultural heritage with American life. The struggles faced by Filipinx Americans vary from the experiences of Indian Americans (not to be confused with Native Americans). Additionally, Native Hawaiians, who are grouped into the category of AAPI as Pacific Islanders, still experience generations of historical trauma from the colonialization of the islands of Hawaii.
AAPI communities in the United States (U.S.) have had to struggle to reconcile their identities and challenges while recognizing the privilege that comes with the “model minority” myth. The "model minority" myth is a microaggression known as “ascription of intelligence,” where one assigns intelligence to a person of color on the basis of their race. It’s important to recognize how the “model minority” myth plays into complex systems that hold up white supremacy by allowing Asian Americans to benefit from systems of power at the expense of the wellbeing of Black people. READ MORE