Chinatown Friendship Gate

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a commemoration of leaders and everyday changemakers, and those people and communities are represented throughout Philly’s neighborhoods.

This year’s recognition comes at a critical time. Violence and hate crimes against members of AAPI communities have been spiking, and citizens, businesses, institutions and lawmakers have begun to grapple with the country’s anti-Asian history, present-day anti-Asian racism, and how to improve things going forward. (Check this “carrd” site for more info and national resources.)

Happily, Philadelphia is filled with ways you can uplift people of AAPI descent and join in celebrating the various cultures of the diaspora across the city.

Find details and RSVP links for several events, happenings, projects and fundraisers below.

AAPI Heritage Month events in Philadelphia

Honor the 6th anniversary of a civic engagement nonprofit

VietLead was founded in 2015 to serve the region’s Vietnamise and Southeast Asian communities. The organization aims to address the needs of traumatized populations who come from countries affected by war through civic engagement, farming and food security, health and wellness programming. So far the group has raised about $30k of a $50k goal in honor of its 6-year anniversary.

When: Now through May 31
Where: DonorBox
Cost: Your donation

Discuss media framing of anti-Asian hate

The Philadelphia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association hosts a virtual panel discussion about how the media can improve its coverage and framing of anti-Asian hate. The panel features national reporters and local experts including Jaweed Kaleem of the Los Angeles Times and Tsiwen Law of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania. Register here.

When: 8 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 5
Where: Zoom
Cost: Free

Help award grants to local AAPI organizations

The Asian Mosaic Fund has distributed more than $200,000 to local, mostly AAPI-led community organizations since its launch. Last year, the group successfully crowdsourced funds to help organizers offset COVID’s economic impact. This year’s goal is to raise enough to award five grants worth $5,000 each.

When: Now through May 31
Where: WeDidIt
Cost: Your donation

Celebrate all kinds of moms with art

The Asian Arts Initiative is also hosting its Annual Spring Benefit this Thursday. This year’s theme celebrates moms and mom-figures. Since the benefit will be virtual, ticket purchases come with a benefit box curated by Asian Arts Initiative that includes care items, an “ASIAN LOVE” t-shirt and a signed copy of Michelle Zauner’s memoir, “Crying in H Mart.”

When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday. May 6
Where: YouTube
Cost: $60 to $155

Highlight Philly-specific challenges with Mayor Kenney

The Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs hosts a virtual town hall the next night, on Thursday, May 6. Moderated by MSNBC and NBC anchor Richard Lui, the event will focus on “current conditions and challenges that the Philadelphia Asian American community is facing today,” a Facebook event page explains. The mayor and other city officials will also be in attendance, and the event will offer Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean, Khmer and Indonesian translation. Register here.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, May 6
Where: Zoom
Cost: Free

Win prizes on a scavenger hunt

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation hosts a neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt in collaboration with Franklin Square. Participants will scour the streets for clues and earn points to win prizes. To join in on the fun, which runs through July 3, register at the Franklin Square ticket window near the carousel.

When: May 10 to July 3
Where: Franklin Square ticket window, 200 N. 6th St.
Cost: Free

Uplift artists from South and West Asia

Twelve Gate Arts is an Old City nonprofit dedicated to highlighting artists from the South and West Asian diaspora. A new exhibit from British artist and writer Qasim Riza Shaheen opens on May 7.

When: 5 p.m. Friday, May 7 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14
Where: Twelve Gates Arts, 106 N. 2nd St.
Cost: Free, donations encouraged

Order fresh wontons delivered to your door

From restaurateur Ellen Yin and the team at Fork and High Street comes the Wonton Project delivery pop-up. Part of #doughsomething, a national campaign to help promote a fair and equitable society, the pop-up offers fresh-folded wontons delivered nightly. All proceeds this month benefit Asian Americans United and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays though Sundays
Where: Across central Philadelphia
Cost: Pay as you go

Rally against anti-Asian hate and gun violence

Councilman David Oh is leading a cross-cultural and multi-organization rally against gun violence and anti-Asian hate crimes on Wednesday, May 12. Other groups involved include the Asian American Chamber of Commerce, Africom and El Sol, according to the flyer.

When: 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 12
Where: Chinatown Friendship Gate, 10th and Arch streets
Cost: Your time and attention

A day of wellness dedicated to AAPI women

PCDC operates a Chinese Immigrant Family Wellness Initiative, which is hosting a special event in collaboration with Studio 34 yoga studio called Asian Women’s Wellness Day. The day is free, features kid yoga, acupuncture, live music and more. There’ll also be Asian-women-owned businesses vending, health and wellness workshops and an interactive, live community art piece. RSVP isn’t required but is strongly encouraged.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 15
Where: Crane Community Center, 1001 Vine St.
Cost: Free

Eat food truck cuisine from immigrant chefs

SoPhiE Food Truck by SEAMAAC provides opportunities for chefs who are immigrants, with AAPI chefs taking the helm twice this month. On May 16, there’s Sri Lankan food, and on May 20, Korean food.

When: 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 16
Where: Sunflower Philly, 1725 N. 5th St.
Cost: Pay as you go

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 20
Where: Philadelphia Navy Yard, 4747 S. Broad St.
Cost: Pay as you go

Layla A. Jones (she/her) was a general assignment reporter for Billy Penn from 2019 to 2021. Her work has helped underserved community organizations, earned free repairs for property owners who sustained...