During the month of May, the U.S. celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in honor of the history and cultural impact of the AAPI community. This year’s celebration feels particularly poignant in the wake of a sharp increase in racism and hate incidents perpetrated against members of the AAPI community across the country. As part of our ongoing commitment to dismantle systemic racism and uplift marginalized voices, we wanted to recognize the immeasurable value of the AAPI community and highlight just a few of the countless ways in which they have helped to enrich creativity and innovation. From museums showcasing their work to inspirational copyright figures everyone should know, this blog is dedicated to showing just how essential the AAPI community is to our creative ecosystem.
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is a combined art museum, repertory movie theater, and archive located at the University of California, Berkeley. It’s home to some of the most beautiful Japanese prints and Chinese paintings in the country, including the Ming and Qing dynasty paintings. In addition to having some of the finest artwork, BAMPFA also showcases hundreds of the most significant films created by the AAPI community throughout history, such as footage taken of WWII internment camps by Japanese Americans. Over time, BAMPFA has become the largest U.S. collection of Japanese films outside of Japan.
BAMPFA uses its film theaters to showcase its vast collection of AAPI films and celebrate and acknowledge the significant impact the AAPI community has had on enriching our society. In addition to showcasing the films they have in their archive, BAMPFA also hosts several festivals celebrating the AAPI community in their theaters, including the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM) and CAAMFest.
Sheldon Renan, who was the director of the Pacific Film Archive in 1961, wanted the Pacific Film Archive to become “a place where cinema patrons, artists, students, and critics could watch the widest range of the world’s films in the best technical and environmental conditions, that would also be a center for study, discussion, and exchange.” And that’s exactly what it has become.
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center (APAC) is a migratory museum located in Washington, DC that “brings history, art and culture to [its visitors] through innovative museum experiences and digital initiatives.” The APAC recognizes the significant impact the AAPI community has on our culture and sets out to show the world why their experience matters, not only during AAPI month, but every day of the year.
The APAC features dozens of exhibitions celebrating Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese Americans’ creative contributions throughout history. The Exit Saigon (Enter Little Saigon) and the Japanese American Pioneers of the Jet Age are only two of the many beautiful and educational exhibitions the APAC has showcased.
To learn more about how the APAC celebrates the AAPI community, visit their Asian Pacific American Heritage page.
Copyright Figures in the AAPI Community
There have been countless figures within the AAPI community that have positively impacted copyright policy. Today, we want to celebrate the contributions of a few key individuals.
Michelle K. Lee
In 2015, history was made in the IP industry as President Barack Obama nominated Michelle K. Lee to serve as Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), making her both the first woman and the first Person of Color to hold the position.
In her roles as Under Secretary and Director, Lee served as the foremost government advisor on overall intellectual property policy, particularly in regards to patents and trademarks, and ensured the smooth operation of the Office as a whole.
Senator Mazie Hirono
Of all the elected officials currently serving in Congress, few have demonstrated as intense a passion for the wellbeing of creators and small business owners as Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Senator Hirono was elected to office in 2012, simultaneously becoming the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate as well as the first woman elected to the Senate from Hawaii.
In the nine years since taking office, Senator Hirono has introduced critical legislation to protect copyright owners and creators, including the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act. Additionally, Senator Hirono co-sponsored the Music Modernization Act to reform music copyright law, and most recently has sponsored legislation targeted at combating anti-AAPI hate crimes across the nation.
Representative Judy Chu
Last, but certainly not least, Representative Judy Chu has served in Congress for almost 15 years. During that time, Representative Chu has been a formidable force in creator and copyright advocacy on the hill.
In addition to serving as an original co-sponsor on the Music Modernization Act, Representative Chu has pushed for initiatives to support the U.S. Copyright Office’s modernization efforts through legislation like the CODE Act, and in 2013 co-founded the Creative Rights Caucus. Representative Chu has also advocated fiercely for the AAPI community, having been elected as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in 2011.
Although it’s impossible to encapsulate the impact of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in a single blog, we hope that by highlighting a few inspiring individuals and organizations we’re able to shed light on how essential the community is for a healthy creative ecosystem. Follow us on our blog and across our social media platforms as we continue to honor the value and contributions of the AAPI community through a month-long celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!