May has arrived, which means it’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This celebration began in 1979 as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week, and has expanded year after year. According to the official government website, organizers chose the month of May to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese person to the United States on May 7, 1843. In addition, May 10th also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, which Chinese immigrants primarily built and finished in 1869.
Now, every May we celebrate the achievements and contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to the history and culture of the country. With recent campaigns calling to end Anti-Asian hate and racial violence against the AAPI community, the month of May takes on a whole new meaning.
Many Threadless artists have created anti-racist merch, from face masks to t-shirts. And through Threadless Causes, these designs also fundraise for nonprofits and charities combating Anti-Asian hate. Here are five artists on their Threadless Causes merch and what supporting AAPI communities means to them.
1. Ben Lee – “I Am Not A Virus!”
“Like so many others in the AAPI community, I’m scared, angry, and a whole other mess of emotions when it comes to the AAPI violence,” said Lee. “Being self-employed in a pandemic, I’m not in a position to make significant financial help to push back against this hate. But I realized I have the ability to create something with the potential to generate recurring contributions to organizations like Stop AAPI Hate. I definitely appreciate Threadless providing the tools to bring that idea to life.”
This design, available on a variety of t-shirts and face masks, takes inspiration from the “IAMNOTAVIRUS” hashtag that people used when violence against AAPI communities started rising during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With a rise in violence against the Asian-American community, I wanted to do something to help the movement fight back against that hate,” said Lee. “I hope you’ll join me in this support.” A portion of proceeds from each sale go to Stop AAPI Hate.
2. Norman Duenas – “Love All Asian Lives”
“I’m an immigrant and a part of the Asian-American community, particularly the Filipino-American community,” said Duenas. “I do not condone the hatred, racism, and violence the AAPI communities are being subjected to, so I’m doing my small part to help by donating the proceeds from my art to AAPI charities and organizations. I hope it helps.”
3. Justine Suarez – “Anti-Racist” and “Stop Asian Hate”
Justine Suarez has a simple message: “Hi, don’t be racist. Thank you!” She delivers that message through various designs available in her Threadless shop. Her “Anti-Racist” t-shirt and “Stop Asian Hate” face mask in particular support AAPI communities.
“This issue is important to me because I have family and friends living in the U.S. where I see Asian Americans getting physically hurt in video footage on almost every news feed on my social media almost every day,” said Suarez.
“I don’t want them to experience that discrimination. The video that really hit me is the one where the old woman gets hit for no reason by some racist guy outside the hotel and nobody tries to help her. In my mind, while watching that, I thought, ‘What if that was my grandma?’ That is what inspired me to make these products. It’s the reason I make my designs. As an artist, I hope I can help through my art and design.”
4. Julius Tanag – “Stop Asian Hate”
“I’m Asian-American and I’m scared to imagine my parents and family being attacked,” said Tanag. “I’d donate directly, but due to the pandemic displacing my work, I feel this is the best way I can contribute monetarily.”
5. BOMA – “Stop Asian Hate”
One designer who goes by the moniker of BOMA supports AAPI communities with a t-shirt that reads “Yellow Peril Supports Black.” This phrase originates from the 1960s as a symbol of solidarity between Asian Americans and African Americans. As BOMA explains, “There is a long and complex history between the Asian-American and Black communities in the United States. This displays the Asian-Black solidarity and how we are all intertwined in the same struggle for liberation.”
AAPI Organizations You Can Support Today with Threadless Causes
All of the designs you see in this post benefit organizations fighting racism in AAPI communities. You can assist them in their mission by buying a Threadless Causes design, or supporting them directly. Learn more about what each organization does below:
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) is a national affiliation of five leading advocacy organizations that fight to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans. It works to build a fair and equitable society for all.
- Chinese Progressive Association educates, organizes, and empowers San Francisco’s low-income and working-class Chinese immigrant community.
- Stop AAPI Hate is a reporting center that tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
- Chinese American Planning Council is a social services organization that promotes the social and economic empowerment of Asian-Americans, immigrants, and low-income communities in New York City.
- Chinese for Affirmative Action is a community-based organization that protects the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and advances multiracial democracy in the United States.
The design featured at the top of this post is “Love All Asian Lives” by Norman Duenas.