The Importance of Asian American Heritage Month


Choua Xiong. Photo taken by California State University, Chico.

May is Asian American Heritage Month in which Americans of Asian descent come together to celebrate their cultures and identities. Choua Xiong is a multicultural and gender studies assistant professor in the Asian American studies minor.

Asian American Studies is a minor offered at Chico State that introduces students to Asian American communities across the U.S. and addresses different issues American Asians face. 

Xiong is of Hmong heritage, an ethnic group indigenous to East and Southeast Asia. 

“I grew up with the sense of not really belonging,” she said. 

She found herself not feeling “Asian enough” due to being Hmong. 

“Since I was Hmong I was always told that I was not Asian enough because I wasn’t Japanese, Chinese or Korean,” Xiong said. 

She said people saw her as a racial category, when in truth there are so many cultures, religions and traditions that are a part of the Asian Diaspora. Xiong found a bigger sense of community in college, finding people with similar backgrounds and experiences as her. Now, she focuses her work on the racialized experience and how it influences her and others  in every aspect of life. 

Xiong celebrates Asian American Heritage Month by joining the activities put on by other Asian American staff and students on campus. She creates continual conversations with friends and family reminding them that it is their time to celebrate themselves. 

She said the dialogue must continue year-round, and stay involved in many different organizations promoting the equity and education of Asian American heritage. 

She also supports local Asian home businesses. 

“I am proud that I am able to recognize that I have other Asian American people I can connect to in day-to-day life, there is a shared experience that is exclusive to Asians,” Xiong said.

Comedian Ali Wong, who uses her humor and status to portray the Asian American experience, is an influence in Xiong’s life. 


Non-Asian Americans can celebrate Asian American Heritage Month by being allies. Educating yourself is the best way to be an ally, for some reliable education sources check out the links at the end of the article. It is important to recognize the vast communities of Asian Americans. 

“Don’t just ask that one Asian person you know all the questions you have,” Xiong said.

Asian American Heritage Month is a time of self-celebration and showing pride in your background for Asian Americans. 

“Asians are often seen as silent or docile but we don’t have to be and it’s ok to live our truth and be different,” Xiong said.

For more information on Asian American Heritage Month check out the Asian American Studies Instagram. Or sign up for some of the classes they are offering during the fall. 

Support Local Asian-owned Businesses:

  • Asian Market – 347 Nord Ave. #3
  • MY Oriental Market – 2550 S. Whitman Pl.
  • Rice Bowl – 2804 Esplanade
  • Vang’s Plants & Succulents Hub – 116 Broadway St.
  • Kathy’s Deli – 671 Walnut St. 

Educational resources:

Meara Hain can be reached at [email protected].