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Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with ElevAsian

Hmong American Women’s Association logo
Hmong American Women’s Association
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May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

May is national Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and festivities are underway to celebrate the diverse communities.

ElevAsian is hosting events throughout the Milwaukee area. From their signature Asian restaurant week to a conversation about the rise of anti-Asian hate, the group is bringing awareness to major issues within AAPI communities here in Milwaukee.

ElevAsian cofounders Erik Kennedy and Shary Tran share more about the organization.

Tran starts, "As we try to educate people on the history of Asians in America, the month of May was chosen because of the first Japanese immigrants coming to the United States. It happened in May, as well as the first Chinese that came to work on the transcontinental railroad was also completed in May."

She says the month is a way to highlight and celebrate AAPI culture with the Asian community and its allies.

Kennedy and Tran decided to create ElevAsian after noticing they were often the only Asian representation in certain spaces.

The group, Trans says, likes to think of themselves as amplifiers of issues that are happening in the Asian community, seeing themselves as educators, ambassadors and even life coaches.

"I think ElevAsian has been a nice space, where we're kind of ambassadors of our culture to communities that maybe don't know a lot about AAPI communities in general — creating that opportunity to learn and being that consultant to communities around Asian culture, we've kind of filled that niche as well," she says.

Being ambassador of Asian culture means partnering with other community stakeholders and organizations throughout Milwaukee to really highlight and create awareness, adds Kennedy.

For instance, Milwaukee Turners is working with ElevAsian to create a Jewish museum exhibit that highlights the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Kennedy says ElevAsian has been given the opportunity, as Asian American leaders, to help provide insight, education and promote and highlight what's really going on.

"It's also breaking down the stereotypes and really dismantling the model minority, right. It's really asking the community and, and really getting the community to step outside of their comfort zone, and really come out and learn and ask questions," he says.

ElevAsian will be continuously adding events throughout May to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. Check out their events page for more details.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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