Oh God, I pray that I may bear a cross
To set my people free,
That I may help to take good-will across
An understanding sea.

Oh, God, I pray that someday every race
May stand on equal plane
And prejudice will find no dwelling place
In a peace that all may gain.
written in 1945 by Mary Matsuzawa,
a child held in a Japanese Internment Camp

By The Open Center

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

In a year when hate crimes against AAPI communities have skyrocketed, celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is more important than ever. The often invisible and normalized racial trauma and “model minority” stereotype experienced by Asian Americans have become impossible to ignore, with an astounding 1900% increase in hate crimes against AAPI communities in New York City alone.

According to Pew Research, there are more than 20 million Asian Americans that fall under the AAPI umbrella, representing 50 ethnic groups and more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia, as well as the Indian subcontinent.

And yet, the month of May was designated as AAPI Heritage Month for two reasons: first, to remember the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. on May 7, 1843 and second, to commemorate the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, which was built primarily by Chinese immigrants, and who were responsible for the most dangerous and labor-intensive tasks.

This month, and always, we recognize the many achievements and contributions AAPI people have made to enriching American history, society and culture, while acknowledging the struggles and Anti-Asian racism they have endured this year and throughout our country’s history.

Since The Open Center got its start in 1984, we have celebrated the vast richness of AAPI cultures and have remained committed to preserving these diverse traditions and healing practices that are rooted in Asian lineages, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Yoga, Ayurveda, Acupuncture, Tai Chi, QiGong, Spiritual Healing and Meditation, to name a few.


The AAPI impact on American history and culture is deeply woven into the American fabric, and yet, too often these contributions have gone unnoticed

Join us on our blog as we remember and recognize the oft forgotten contributions of our AAPI brothers and sisters across the field of wellness, who with their many Eastern Healing Practices have inspired an entire generation and industry of wellness practitioners. As we reflect and learn from our history, it is also important to look to those paving the future of the wellness industry.

One way to do that is by looking within our hometown of NYC to support its AAPI-owned businesses. Learn more about these past and present leaders below:


Zhang Zhongjing (150—219): Regarded as the sage of Chinese medicine, Zhang Zhongjing was one of the most prominent doctors in chinese history. His book, Shānghán Zábìng Lùn or known as “Treatise on Cold Pathogenic and Miscellaneous Diseases” is credited for establishing the foundation upon which Traditional Chinese Medicine was built.

Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694): Japan’s most celebrated Edo Period poet, and Master of Japan’s most famous poetic form, the Haiku.

Swami Vivekanada (1863 – 1902): Vivekanada was a Hindu Monk best known for his groundbreaking speech at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in which he introduced Hinduism to America. In the speech that began, “Sisters and Brothers of America” he called for religious tolerance and universal acceptance.

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893–1952): Considered one of the preeminent spiritual figures of modern times, Paramahansa Yogananda is credited for introducing yoga and meditation to the west. His best-selling book, Autobiography of a Yogi introduced millions of readers to the wisdom of the East.

Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015): was a Chinese American author, social activist, philosopher, and feminist. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she spent her entire adult life as a human rights activist, fighting for civil rights, labor rights, feminism and the environment.


Here are some resources to stay informed and active beyond the month of May and all year long:

Asian Mental Health Collective: The mission of AMHC is to de-stigmatize mental health within the Asian community and make mental health support easily available, approachable and accessible to Asian communities worldwide.
Website | Instagram

Brown Girl Therapy: Founded by Sahaj Kaur Kohli, Brown Girl Therapy is the first mental health community for children of immigrants.

Asian American Feminist Collective: an intersectional feminist group that focuses on exploring identity, building community, political education and advocacy within communities whose backgrounds encompass East, Southeast, and South Asian, Pacific Islander, multi-ethnic and diasporic Asian identities.

CAAAV: a pan-Asian community organization supporting and empowering low-income Asian immigrants and refugees in New York City.

HATE IS A VIRUS: a nonprofit initiative raising awareness of anti-Asian racism and combating racism and xenophobia fueled by COVID 19.
Website | Instagram


Just as we reflect and learn from our history, it is important to also support those who are paving the future. One way to do that is by looking within our local communities to support its AAPI-owned businesses.

Here are some of our favorites local businesses within our hometown of New York City:

Minka Brooklyn: Co-founded by Aki Hirata Baker, Minka is a community led center for wellness and harmonious living. Minka, meaning “home of the people” in Japanese, strives to create an inclusive environment where all people can heal and thrive.
Website | Instagram

Headquartered in NY, Slant’d is a collective of Asian Americans magnifying the voices of everyday and emerging #AsianAmerican artists, authors & creators. Their magazine of the same name celebrates Asian American identity one story at a time.
Website | Instagram

Okimoto: Founded by New York based florist, Michelle Ishikawa, Okimoto is committed to helping people reconnect with nature by celebrating local ecology and seasonality. This Mother’s Day, 20% of all sales will be donated to Wild Rainbow to support their after school art programming and community partnerships. Check out her beautiful floral arrangements here or follow her on Instagram.

Rooted: NY-based Rooted is on a mission to reconnect people with nature, one houseplant at a time. Born of the belief that our mental, emotional and physical health benefits from having greenery in your space, Rooted is a one-stop shop that makes the plant-buying experience convenient, fun and sustainable.
Website | Instagram


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