12 Media Recommendations for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

This year, as many regions are in the process of recovery from the global pandemic that shattered our daily routines, the month of May brings a new context to the importance of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Officially established by Congress in 1992, APAHM is an opportunity for Asian and Pacific Islander voices to be amplified. For many API identifying folks, May is a month to bring awareness to issues close to home, such as the recent rise in Asian American hate crimes during the pandemic. For others, May is also an important month to dedicate some time to explore the many resources available in order to broaden our perspectives and learn how to support the communities around us. Here is a short list of films, television shows, books, and podcasts by API creators that we hope will carry you to the end of May and beyond.

FILM and TV. Early media representations of API individuals have a problematic history at best. Only recently are we now seeing an increase of entertainment media created by and featuring API voices. Film and television are important media for minority voices to express and navigate their identities through engaging narratives that humanize them, rather than make caricatures of them.

  • Minari (2021) Lee Isaac Chung’s tender film is about a Korean family’s search for the American Dream.
  • Better Luck Tomorrow (2002) Justin Lin’s edgy film depicts a group of over-achieving high schoolers that challenge the model minority stereotype and find themselves in a life of crime and excess.
  • Crazy Rich Asians (2018) Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians is a contemporary romantic comedy about a New Yorker who struggles to navigate her boyfriend’s wealthy lifestyle.
  • Master of None (2015) Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s Netflix Original comedy is loosely based on Ansari’s real-life experiences as a New York actor struggling to realize his identity.
  • Kim’s Convenience (2016) A Canadian TV sitcom, Kim’s Convenience follows the lives of the Kim family as they run their convenience store in Toronto and features lovable characters in relatable situations.

BOOKS. Since the recent rise in violent crimes against API individuals, books provide a portal to understanding the unique and personal struggles of identity that many API deal with. Novels allow us to step into a different pair of shoes and empathize with a life that we may find to be more similar to our own than we realize.

  • Crying in H Mart Michelle Zauner, also known as the musician Japanese Breakfast, writes about her grieving process after losing her Korean mother, and her only connection to her Korean heritage, to cancer.
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous Ocean Vuong is a prolific Vietnamese-American writer, whose debut novel is written in the form of a letter to his mother.
  • Pachinko Min Jin Lee’s second novel is a historical fiction about a Korean family’s immigration to Japan over four generations.
  • Minor Feelings Kathy Park Hong’s autobiographical book reckons with the Asian American identity through memoir, critical criticism, and history in a series of essays.

PODCASTS. Entertaining and insightful, podcasts as a media form are having a moment. API podcast hosts are taking over with witty commentary, complex discourse, and interesting interviews about the API identity.

  • Asian Enough From the LA Times, “Asian Enough” is a podcast about being Asian American — the joys, the complications, and everything in between.
  • Feeling Asian Comedians Youngmi Mayer and Brian Park navigate previously taboo topics in their Asian American households and take the opportunity in adulthood to talk about their feelings after a lifetime of holding in their emotions.
  • Asian Not Asian A weekly comedy podcast with a simple pitch: “Two Asian guys not from Asia talking about American issues no American cares about.”