Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders


“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” is a phrase describing several aggregated demographics—or multiple distinct, diverse groups of people combined into one category. Historically, the U.S. Census defined “Asian Americans” as individuals of East, Southeast, and South Asia descent, and “Pacific Islanders” as individuals of Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro (Guamanian), Fijian, Tongan, Marshallese, Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian descent. This phrase is now considered problematic, due to the evolving and personal nature of racial and ethnic identities, the potential to ignore or gloss over Native Hawaiians, and the geopolitical complexities of what is considered “Asia” (versus the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, etc.) It is now considered best practice to discuss ethnic groups individually (i.e. Japanese American, Native Hawaiian, Chamorro), or to reference “Asian Americans” and “Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders” as distinct groups. When referencing aggregated data, the preferred phrasing is currently “Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders” or Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) people.


Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) are growing demographics that are integral to the culture and identity of the United States. Throughout history, their significant and often-overlooked contributions range from atomic sciences and technology, to pediatric immunology, ethnic minority psychology, civil rights, and domestic violence advocacy. At the same time, AANHPI people have been systematically exploited, excluded, scapegoated, displaced, and abused by white Americans. From anti-Asian hate crimes to human trafficking, labor exploitation, and spikes in gendered violence, AANHPI lives have been consistently valued less by our society. Indigenous Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians have experienced land theft and genocide, and have had to continuously fight for their homes, rights, and cultures. Asian American people have also been stereotyped into very narrow identity windows of ‘model minorities,’ which pits them against other BIPOC communities and harmfully aims to dictate where Asian Americans should be successful and unsuccessful (i.e. successful with math but unsuccessful with sports). AANHPI people who are LGBTQ+, economically poor, adult industry or garment workers, trafficking survivors, immigrants, and/or limited-English proficient also experience additional compounding marginalizations, which can significantly limit their ability to thrive.


In recent years, there has been a rise in anti-Asian American hate, including a disturbing increase in violence against Asian women. Largely attributed to Asian communities receiving misplaced blame for the COVID-19 pandemic, this follows a familiar trend of scapegoating Asian Americans throughout U.S. history. Today, this attention has cast a complex spotlight on AANHPI advocacy and justice. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander activists have worked hard to combat stereotyping and anti-AANHPI racism, create safe spaces for their communities, and decolonize community change work. AANHPI people who are LGBTQ+, survivors, and first or second generation immigrants have been especially powerful community organizers, changemakers, and advocates, bringing a much-needed intersectional, equity-focused lens to health and well-being.


Partnering with Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders to achieve health equity and racial justice, requires deeply uprooting racist systems that perpetuate their exploitation and abuse. Institutionalizing and operationalizing equity and justice throughout all leadership levels of all sectors will require organizations, allies, and systems to deeply center and follow the leadership of people with lived experience. Community-led processes, self-representation, and centering AANHPI voices are a few effective tactics communities can leverage to advance equity and well-being for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. 


Resources & Tools


Screen shot of website cover: AAPI Data
AAPI Data
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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Priority Populations Channel
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Community Commons
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The Growing Gap: Gender Pay Equity, Meaningful Work, and Wealth during COVID-19
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Screen capture of article cover photo: Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity in U.S. Health Care: A Scorecard of State Performance
Achieving Racial and Ethnic Equity in U.S. Health Care: A Scorecard of State Performance
Resource - Report
Brought to you by The Commonwealth Fund
First page of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Health in the United States and U.S. Territories: A Pathfinder to Resources
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Health in the United States and U.S. Territories: A Pathfinder to Resources
Resource
Brought to you by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Racial Equity
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by APHA
Screen grab of COVID-19 Community Corps In-Language Resource Guide
COVID-19 Community Corps In-Language Resource Guide
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by APIAHF
Screen grab of The Color of COVID-19
The Color of COVID-19: Disparate Impact, Inequitable Response
Resource
Brought to you by The Skoll Foundation
First page of Asian American Health in the United States and U.S. Territories: A Pathfinder to Resources
Asian American Health in the United States and U.S. Territories: A Pathfinder to Resources
Resource
Brought to you by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Minority Population Profiles
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Screen shot of website logo: Census Data and API Identities
Census Data and API Identities
Resource - Report
Screen shot of the homepage
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Resource - Website/webpage
Screen grab of Racial Trauma
Racial Trauma
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by MHA
Screen capture of Nation State of Hawai’i: Our History webpage
Nation State of Hawai’i: Our History
Resource - Website/webpage
First page of Historical Trauma and Descendants’ Well-Being
Historical Trauma and Descendants’ Well-Being
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by AMA
Screen capture of Video Series: Ancient Moku and Ahupua‘a
Video Series: Ancient Moku and Ahupua‘a
Resource - Website/webpage
Screenshot of Impact of COVID-19 on Minoritized and Marginalized Communities
Impact of COVID-19 on Minoritized and Marginalized Communities
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by AMA
Screen Capture of APHA Article Cover: Anti-Asian Xenophobia and Asian American COVID-19 Disparities
Anti-Asian Xenophobia and Asian American COVID-19 Disparities
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by APHA
Screen capture of Dental Health is Worse in Communities of Color
Dental Health Is Worse in Communities of Color
Resource - Report
Brought to you by The Pew Charitable Trusts
How I Found Racial Healing During the Pandemic
How I Found Racial Healing During the Pandemic
Story - Written
Brought to you by Yes! Magazine
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Data Update: Free and Reduced Price Lunch and Majority Minority Schools
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 04/26/2017
Photo of Honuʻāina Nichols smiling with a gradient green-to-teal background and white letters reading
Climate Change, Hawaiian Sovereignty, and the Lahaina Fires: An Interview with Honuʻāina Nichols
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 08/24/2023
Stock image of young children at school
Mapping Student Achievement in Areas of Poverty
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 02/01/2017
Screen Capture of Website Article Cover: Supporting Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Education
Supporting Equitable COVID-19 Vaccine Education
Story - Written
Brought to you by Kaiser Permanente
Screen shot of the headline of the story
How Do We Advance Health Equity for Asian Americans?
Story - Written
Brought to you by RWJF
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Combat Hate Crime Resources
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox

Data & Metrics


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BIPOC Health Equity Library
Library
Published on 09/27/2022
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Indigenous Knowledge Library
Library
Published on 08/04/2022
Hero image of Public Health and Equity Resource Navigator
Public Health and Equity Resource Navigator
Library
Published on 10/22/2021

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