AAPIiG was founded in 2020, a historic year that included a global pandemic and the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other members of the Black community. The racial disparities in COVID-19 health outcomes and the U.S. criminal justice system are glaring examples of ongoing race-based violence and discrimination in America. In the wake of community-wide discussions on the ways in which systemic bias manifests within STEM and the geosciences, AAPIiG was started to provide a community for AAPIs to support one another in navigating questions of social identity and ethical responsibility as geoscientists.
The AAPI categorization is very broad, encompassing individuals who can trace their ancestry or heritage to countries in East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Oceania. Thus, there exists a huge range of experiences encompassed by different groups under the AAPI umbrella. In addition, many individuals have other social identities and backgrounds that intersect with being AAPI, including but not limited to being LGBTQ+, multi-racial, and/or having a specific immigration or citizenship status. As such, different challenges face different groups: from the rise of anti-Asian racism and hate crimes in America; the persistence of the model minority myth; to the fight for land rights, sovereignty, and self-determination for Native Hawaiians, for example. Treating the AAPI category as a monolith in demographic data is unrepresentative of the rich diversity among AAPIs, and hides the reality that subgroups within AAPI are severely underrepresented in geosciences and face unique discrimination in America.
Yet, the history behind the AAPI label is one of unity and power in numbers. The term “Asian American” was born in the 1960s in solidarity with the Black Power Movement, in recognition that more things unify AAPIs than divide them. In the 1980s, “Pacific Islanders” were added to this designation in the U.S. Census in order to allocate more funding and resources to communities that needed it.
Thus, this organization seeks to unite AAPIs in geosciences together in a community that uplifts and promotes justice for all marginalized groups within the discipline and the world at large. Ongoing experiences of violence, discrimination, and bias by the AAPI community are part of the broader historical context of racism, white supremacy, and settler colonialism. As we work to address AAPI-specific issues, we do so in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities. Together, we will learn ways to support one another while forming understandings and relationships both internally, within the AAPI community, and externally, with other communities, to imagine and bring forth a better future for geosciences.
This passage is abridged from the opening remarks of the first AAPIiG Meet-Up at the AGU Fall Meeting in December 2020.
The AAPIiG logo was designed by Caroline Juang. The logo represents a combination of different Earth science disciplines as well as our specific mission — notice the letters AAPI appear each quadrant!
- Earth interior, surface, and water cycle (top left A): Clouds for precipitation, and a volcano with lava. Also note the seismic wave dividing the top right A and bottom right I.
- Planetary science, sun, and ice (top right A): A mountain on Mars with an ice cap. Celestial bodies represent: comet, small planetary body, sun, and asteroid.
- Oceans, atmosphere, hazards (Bottom left P): a hurricane in the ocean.
- Terrestrial & human impact (bottom right I): a forest on the right, and a deforested land turned into agricultural land on the left.