AANHPI Heritage Month 2022

Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2022

We Are Not a Monolith


noun [c]

\ ' mä - nǝ -̩ lith \ A group of people who are thought of as being all the same.

Every May during Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month and throughout the year, we celebrate and focus on diversity, inclusion, and leadership to advance the AA and NHPI community. This year, our attention turns to better understanding the diversity of this portfolio. When we categorize AA and NHPIs as a single group, it masks the diversity of languages, cultures, and customs of the many countries and regions that are represented. In fact, this monolithic view of AA and NHPIs also makes it difficult to understand the disparities within the AA and NHPI communities from education level to socioeconomic status.

As President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., proclaimed in the Executive Order on Advancing Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for AANHPIs, “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities together constitute the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States and make rich contributions to our society, our economy, and our culture. Yet for far too long, systemic barriers to equity, justice, and opportunity put the American dream out of reach of many AA and NHPI communities.”1

Facing Discrimination: Voices from the AA and NHPI Community

We asked individuals from the community to share how stereotypes and biases about the AA and NHPI community played out in their own lives and upbringing. This video features voice actors from the NIH community who have read anonymous submissions aloud followed by words of hope and information about how to be a better ally.

NIH Acting Director’s Message

Dear Colleagues,

NIH joins the nation in celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month. In recognition of this year's theme, We Are Not a Monolith, the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is highlighting a curated collection of resources, references, and first-person perspectives that help us better understand the diversity of those within the AA and NHPI community.

Last September, in alignment with NIH’s overall efforts and the White House Executive Order on Advancing Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, we renamed the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Special Emphasis Employment Portfolio as the Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA and NHPI) Special Emphasis Employment Portfolio. This is another step toward better understanding the AA and NHPI communities that represent a multitude of cultures, languages, and experiences in the U.S. EDI data collection now disaggregates Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) from Asian Americans (AA) within the Race & Ethnicity category when reporting NIH Workforce demographics. This practice may reveal any disparities that may exist within AA and NHPI communities. Data is integral to understanding workforce representation trends, as well as other important topics.

At NIH, another issue we are addressing for AA and NHPI and other marginalized communities is the leadership disparity gap. While AA and NHPI individuals represent almost 20% of the NIH workforce, AA and NHPI representation in senior leadership positions continues to lag behind their presence in the overall workforce. We need actionable solutions and recognize that certain approaches we have used for some groups who are underrepresented in the executive ranks, may not necessarily work for other groups. We have seen that progress is made by engaging with leadership, employee resource groups, and other parts of the workforce, and we will seize opportunities to continue to develop the AA and NHPI leadership pathway. We are also sensitive to concerns related to the Department of Justice’s former “China Initiative” that has evoked a range of emotions including fear and declining morale, particularly among U.S. scientists of Asian and Chinese descent. This must be addressed across the entire U.S. biomedical research enterprise.

We are pleased that the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) has been reinstated in the Department of Health and Human Services. The mission of WHIAANHPI is to lead a whole-of-government agenda to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities.

During this month of recognition and celebration, we do not forget the challenging times that we continue to live through because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Too often in the news, we read about the increase in unacceptable, often tragic harassment and violence against the AA and NHPI community. There have been almost 11,000 hate incidents in the U.S. against AA and NHPI individuals between March 19, 2020 and December 31, 2021, and we emphasize again that respect for everyone—all ethnicities and races—is a fundamental value for NIH and essential to achieving our mission. Every person deserves a sense of safety and belonging.

As we celebrate AA and NHPI Heritage Month, I encourage you to visit EDI’s website to learn more and participate in this observance. In addition to the other exciting events lined up for May, we are delighted that the Director of the National Eye Institute, Dr. Michael F. Chiang, will be the keynote speaker on May 26th for the annual Kuan-Teh Jeang Lecture hosted by EDI and the Office of Intramural Research. In his lecture, Artificial Intelligence, Ophthalmology…and Being an Asian-American Clinician-Scientist, Dr. Chiang will discuss his experiences in developing a career at the intersection of engineering, ophthalmology, and biomedical informatics and how his career has been shaped by his perspective as an Asian American. For more information on how to join the events (all virtual!) and insight into the AA and NHPI portfolio, please visit the campaign website or contact caroline.goon@nih.gov.


Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Acting Director, NIH

Dr. Lawrence Tabak

EDI Acting Director’s Message

The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) is pleased to celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) Heritage Month. I invite you to join me as we explore a very timely topic and learn more about this year’s theme, We Are Not a Monolith. AA and NHPIs in the United States are one of the fastest-growing populations,1and the storied history and accomplishments of our colleagues and friends is powerful in shaping our continued pursuit of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The leadership and influence of the AA and NHPI community permeates all aspects of our lives. We see this in the leadership of Dr. Ashish Jha who serves as the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator. We have all been impacted by the coronavirus and have relied on a coordinated response from our government. This is also demonstrated in the service of Mazie Hirono and Tammy Duckworth who serve in the U.S. Senate making laws for our country. In addition to science and government, we are also greatly influenced by the leadership of AA and NHPIs in business and the arts. This is evidenced by the creativity of Eric Yuan the founder of Zoom. Zoom became a lifeline during the pandemic helping us keep in touch with our family members and friends when it wasn’t safe to visit, and in many cases enabling us to continue working seamlessly. The talent and artistry of Olivia Rodrigo has taken popular culture by storm as evidenced by the recent receipt of multiple Grammy awards.

Since 2020, we have seen a spike in violence against AA and NHPIs stemming from anti-Asian intolerance and the rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States.2 However, racial violence against these communities began long ago,3 and it was not until the civil rights movement of the 1960s that the term Asian American was coined.4 From that time, we began to see advocacy and racial justice for AA and NHPIs begin to take shape. Yet, for years, much of this history has not been taught in any school curricula. As we look at how to support our AA and NHPI colleagues, we are thrilled that states such as Illinois and New Jersey are now mandating Asian American history as part of their public-school curricula, and other states are demanding similar requirements through their state legislatures.5 Education is an effective tool to combat racism, and through this education we can lift the voices of oppressed communities and begin to dismantle the model minority myth, xenophobia, and other ways that institutional privilege manifests in society.

Throughout May, you can expect to find several events that celebrate and honor the AA and NHPI community; one of which is the 2nd Annual Vivek Murthy Lecture to be held on May 11, 2022, hosted by our colleagues in the NIH Chapter of the Federal Asian Pacific American Organization (NIH FAPAC). In this virtual conversation, current U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, will recognize Michelle Wu, Mayor of Boston, for her leadership in addressing racism and mental health stigma among the AA and NHPI community. Bookmark the landing page to ensure you are up to speed on all AA and NHPI activities and events this month.

While you visit our website, you’ll find resources, information, and a video of first-person accounts on how stereotypes and biases about the AA and NHPI community have played out in the daily lives of our own NIH AA and NHPI colleagues and friends. I just watched the video and am so grateful to our colleagues who have shared their experiences so that I can be a better ally. I encourage you to watch.

Join us as we celebrate AA and NHPI Heritage Month. You can follow EDI on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram at @NIH_EDI and use #NIH_AANHPI to participate in the campaign. To get involved and learn more about the AA and NHPI Employment Portfolio, visit the AA and NHPIportfolio page or contact caroline.goon@nih.gov.

On behalf of EDI, we thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Shelma Middleton Little, Ph.D.
Acting EDI Director


  1. https://www.whitehouse.gov
  2. https://www.whitehouse.gov
  3. https://time.com
  4. https://time.com
  5. https://time.com
Dr. Shelma Little

Deeper Dive Into the Research

The U.S. AA and NHPI population is diverse – with 22.9 million Asians alone or in combination living in the United States as of 2019.2 The U.S. Census Bureau defines AA and NHPIs as persons whose roots can be traced to the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. This highly diverse group encompasses different cultures, languages, religions, backgrounds, histories, and other characteristics. Below is a collection of references to help better understand the diversity and complexity of barriers and challenges faced by the AA and NHPI community.

The following research papers, articles, TED Talks, and videos are resources to help shed light on some of the factors that have contributed to the discrimination and challenges faced by AA and NHPIs. We hope you’ll find them useful in your journey to understanding the AA and NHPI diaspora.

Model Minority & The Double-Edged Sword

“The Model Minority label assigned to Asian Americans seems innocuous, even flattering, on the surface, but in reality, it spins a myth that has boxed Asian Americans in stereotypes…”

An image of the word stereotype in a dictionary

“Most North Americans are familiar with the stereotype of Asians’ ‘natural’ STEM abilities…This research study focuses on both groups of students’ responses to being stereotyped, which demonstrate eerie and toxic connections.”

Illustration of a diverse group of AA and NHPI faces

“While Asian American was a term established by activists in the 1960s as a means to build political power, it’s also been criticized for obscuring the immense diversity among those it purports to cover…”

Illustration of a map showing half of all Asian Americans live in the West.

“Much like economic trends within the U.S. Asian population, there are wide disparities among origin groups….”

The Brown Asian American Movement: Advocating for South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Filipino American Communities

“In recent years, Brown Asian Americans have been much more vocal about the continued invisibility of their communities within the larger Asian American community…”

Camera on a tripod at a photoshoot of an office chair.

“… Asian American white-collar professionals are the least likely group to be promoted from individual contributor roles into management — less likely than any other race, including blacks and Hispanics…”

The words See Me overlayed onto the silhouette of a man sitting in a chair.

“Chinese are not the same as Japanese, are not the same as Koreans, Filipinos, or Thai, or Indians...”

Collage of three AA and NHPIs working on a computer, looking into a microscope, talking to a patient.

“The Asian American Pacific Islander population is extremely diverse, culturally and economically.”

An Asian man writing on a white board.

“If you are Asian in America, you probably grew up with the idea that you had to keep your head down, get perfect grades, and work hard to achieve wealth and success. Many of these ideas are because of the model minority myth…”

Illustration of people working at desks.

“In 2007, researchers surveyed 180 teachers to understand if they held stereotypes about their students. The most commonly held opinion was that Asian students were significantly more industrious, intelligent, and gentle...”

Tell us what you were surprised to learn this AA and NHPI Heritage Month!

Join the conversation on our social media channels this month. Share what posts resonate the most with you or any additional content you’d like to see.
Feel free to drop us a DM, too!

White House Briefing Room

White House Briefing Room

White House icon

October 22, 2021

Statements and Releases

AA and NHPI 2022 Events

Speaking up to break away from racial & ethnic stereotypes Utkarsh Ambudkar, South Asian actor, talks diversity & inclusion in Hollywood and beyond

May 3, 2022 | 12:00-1:00PM ET | https://nih.zoomgov.com

If you missed the discussion with Utkarsh Ambudkar and NIH's own, Indu Ambudkar don't worry, we've got you covered! Find the recording here, on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/bjjTlsiaHz0

EDI, the Federation of AANHPI Network (FAN), and the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) will host a talk with Utkarsh about growing up in a family focused on STEM, finding his passion, and how he speaks out in Hollywood on issues faced by AANHPIs (such as representation), and we’ll draw parallels across industries on challenges/barriers facing our community. Utkarsh will also discuss with us how AANHPIs need to continue to speak up and make our voices heard. Indu Ambudkar, PhD, representing FAN, will also join the conversation to talk briefly about her experiences moving from India to the U.S. and how this impacted her perspectives and views related to her career, family, and more.

Inaugural Annual NIH Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Health Research Conference

May 4-5, 2022 | 9:00-5:30PM ET on May 4; 11:00AM-4:30PM EST on May 5

The NIH Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Health Scientific Interest Group (NIH AANHPI-HSIG) will host the Inaugural Annual NIH AA and NHPI Health Research Conference on May 4-5, 2022. It will be virtual in 2022. The main theme of the conference is “Mechanisms and Translational Research to Improve Health and Therapeutic Outcomes for AA and NHPI Population.” This conference will bring together the world’s leading scientific and regulatory experts in the field of AA and NHPI research from government, academia, and the community.

A Virtual Conversation with Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu: Addressing systemic racism, mental health stigma, and community resilience to achieve health equity

May 11, 2022 | 1:00-2:00PM ET | https://videocast.nih.gov

The NIH Chapter of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) are pleased to announce a virtual public health leadership discussion. At this event, Dr. Murthy will recognize Michelle Wu, current Mayor of Boston, for her leadership efforts to address the public health challenges in Boston and dismantling the barriers that uphold systemic racism in her communities.

Kuan-Teh Jeang Memorial Lecture: Artificial Intelligence, Ophthalmology…and Being an Asian-American Clinician-Scientist

May 26, 2022 | 1:00-2:30PM ET | https://videocast.nih.gov

This year's speaker is Dr. Michael F. Chiang, director of the National Eye Institute, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. K.T. Jeang advocated for the advancement of Asian-American scientists. This talk will celebrate Dr. Jeang’s legacy by describing the speaker’s experiences in developing a career at the intersection of engineering, ophthalmology, and biomedical informatics – and will describe examples of how the speaker’s career has been shaped by his perspective as an Asian-American. The program is co-sponsored by the NIH Office of Intramural Research and the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.