AAPI Press Release | Activities List

For Immediate Release April 30, 2021

SOMA Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021

South Orange Village and Maplewood Township, together with SOMA Cross Cultural Works and the AAPI Community, unite to recognize and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2021 with family-oriented events during the entire month of May. As the national conversation veers toward racial division and polarization, and as anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise, it is imperative to build understanding and bring communities in New Jersey together by telling the stories of the heterogeneous AAPI community.

Sheena Collum, South Orange Village President says, “We stand in solidarity with our Asian American and Pacific Islander family, friends and neighbors as we honor their rich and diverse cultural heritage and traditions; bring awareness to current events and issues; and spread love, light and joy with The Lion Dance, Holi Festival of Colors, Wishing Tree, the Hula Dance, and a myriad of other unique events.”

The month kicks off and ends with Wishing Trees in Maplewood Ricalton Square, Maplewood Libraries, and South Orange Spiotta Park to make a wish for a future without anti-Asian hate and all forms of racism. The Lion symbolizes power and wisdom. On May 7, Lion Dancers will parade down Maplewood Avenue, mimicking Lion movements in elaborate costumes to chase away evil and bring good luck and prosperity, followed by a Bollywood Dance Party. Hula, the Polynesian dance from the Hawaiian Islands that portrays and dramatizes stories through undulating gestures in dance, will take place with Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima on May 22 in Spiotta Park, South Orange, along with live music from the PAʻI Trio. Sunday, May 23, in Maplewood’s Amphitheater, Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors will be a spectacle to behold through a vibrant celebration of spring and love. Other in-person or virtual events include book discussions, storytime, workshops, artist spotlights, youth features, self-defense training, and an AAPI Family Heritage pool party, among others.

“The Township of Maplewood is proud to sponsor and participate in Asian American Pacific Islander month. Thank you to our Community Services team as well as the SOMA organizations and individuals that worked tirelessly to bring us these amazing events in the month of May. Please engage, experience and enjoy!” – Frank McGehee

The Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) demographic is the most rapidly growing ethnic group in the country and is expected to increase to over 40 million individuals by 2060, according to the US Department of Commerce. For the Garden State, the AAPI Community exceeds 10% (941, 057) of the population with growing significance; yet, they are the least understood and least studied community among the general population, policymakers, and civic leaders, as stated in a report from jerseypromise.org. As noted by the Essex County Community Foundation, 27,000 of Essex County’s residents identify as Asian, originating from a multitude of countries, each with their own distinct languages, authentic traditions and diverse cultures. 

EVENT LIST

All in-person events require masks and social distancing! 

The preliminary lineup of events is as follows:

All-Ages Storytime 

May 4, 11:00am Outdoors & Facebook Live • South Orange Public Library

AAPI Heritage Lecture: Dr. Cindy I-fen Cheng

May 5, 12:30pm – Virtual • Seton Hall University

Yī Qǐ Asian American Pacific Islander Kickoff

May 6, 11:00am – Virtual • Seton Hall University

Ping Chong Virtual Dance screening, and Meet the Artist Talk

May 6, 7:00pm – Virtual • Ping Chong and Kim Chan

Cambodia - US Relations in the New Era Webinar Conference

May 6, 8:00pm – Virtual • Seton Hall University

Lion Dance AAPI Kick Off Celebration with NY Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club

May 7, 6:00pm – Maplewood Village • SOMA Cross Cultural Works, Maplewood Village Alliance, South Orange Village, Maplewood Township, Maplewood Community Services, Adamson Ramsey Homes – Keller Williams Realty, Elizabeth Tapia – Guaranteed Rate, Kokoro, SOMA Families Meetup, Seton Hall University, BCB Bank       

Masala Bhangra with Mimi Stella and Bollywood Dance Party with DJ Señor Carberry

May 7, 6:30pm (immediately following The Lion Dance) – Maplewood Village • SOMA Cross Cultural Works, Maplewood Village Alliance, South Orange Village, Maplewood Township, Maplewood Community Services, Adamson Ramsey Homes – Keller Williams Realty, Elizabeth Tapia – Guaranteed Rate, Kokoro, SOMA Families Meetup, Seton Hall University, BCB Bank       

Self Defense Class

May 8, 12:30pm – 530 Valley St, Maplewood • American Jiu Jitsu of Maplewood, SOMA Cross Cultural Works

YA Author Discussion with Marina Budhos and Sayantani DasGupta

May 14, 4:00pm – Live & Virtual • South Orange Public Library

Virtual Sake Tasting

May 14, 7:00pm – Virtual • Neighbors Wine Shop, SOMA Cross Cultural Works

Thank God for Monday Webinar - AAPI Edition

May 17, 12:30pm – Virtual • TGFM Radio, Seton Hall University

“A Boy Named Isamu” Book Discussion with Author James Yang

May 17, 7:00pm – Virtual • [Words] Bookstore

Kid's Ink Painting Workshop with Manman Huang

May 18, 4:00pm – Virtual • Maplewood Library

Yoga with Instructor Susan Hyon

May 19, 11:00 am – Virtual • South Orange Public Library

Read Around the World: CHINA – “The Crazed” by Ha Jin

May 19, 7:00pm – Virtual • Maplewood Library

DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee) Anti-Asian Racism Training

May 21, 10:30am – Virtual • Seton Hall University

WSOU Thank God For Monday (AAPI Edition) with Dr. Monica Burnette and Dr. KC Choi

May 22, 8:30am – Virtual 89.5 FM, iHeartRadio and www.wsou.net • Seton Hall University, WSOU 89.5 FM

Hālau Hula | Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima with Live Music from PAʻI Trio

May 22, 3:00pm – Spiotta Park • SOMA Cross Cultural Works, South Orange Village, Maplewood Township, Maplewood Community Services Department, CVF Properties Group - Keller Williams Realty, Seton Hall University

Holi Festival of Colors

May 23, 12pm – Memorial Park • SOMA Cross Cultural Works, Maplewood Village Alliance, South Orange Village, Maplewood Township, Maplewood Community Services Department, Adamson Ramsey Homes – Keller Williams Realty, Elizabeth Tapia – Guaranteed Rate, Kokoro, BCB Bank, SOMA Families Meetup, Seton Hall University 

PreSchool AAPI Book Club Reading with CHS Seniors Elizabeth Crofton and Josh Lee

May 23, 10:00am – Orchard Park, Maplewood • SOMA Justice, SOMA Cross Cultural Works, Columbia High School [CHS] Asian American Student Alliance

Fitting In: A Conversation with Helen Wan and Anne Fernald

May 25, 7:00pm – Virtual • Maplewood Library

Kids’ Book Talk: “Book Uncle and Me” by Uma Krishnaswami

May 27, 4:30pm – Virtual • Maplewood Library

AAPI Family Heritage Month Pool Party

May 28, 5pm – 8pm – South Orange Community Pool • South Orange Village

MONTH LONG EVENTS

Artist Spotlights – Joel De La Fuente and Tracy Sham

Social Media and Website • Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture

AAPI Youth Features – Ace Williams, Elizabeth Crofton, Finn Egan-Liang, Harumi Garrison, Josh Lee, Noah Dhaliwal, Samuel Taber-Kewene, and Tai Artis 

Social Media and Website • Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture

Emma Hayden – Anime Step by Step Exhibit

1978 Arts Center Windows, Website and Social Media • Maplewood Division of Arts & Culture

Festive Origami Window Display

172 Maplewood Ave, Maplewood • Kokoro Gift Shop, Siu Lo Seamon

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company

www.SOPACnow.org – Virtual Event • South Orange Performing Arts Center [SOPAC]

Asian-Owned Restaurants Raffle | Winners Announced Week of 5/23

5/7 – 5/23 Donations and Raffle • South Orange Middle School (SOMS) Student Council

SOMA Wishing Trees

Make a wish for an end to anti-Asian racism and in honor of all AAPI Community directly and indirectly affected by violence and hate

Maplewood Village – Ricalton Square

Maplewood Main Library

South Orange – Spiotta Park

Maplewood Hilton Branch Library

SOMAAsian, Maplewood Libraries, South Orange Village, Township of Maplewood, Maplewood Community Services Department, SOMA Action Racial Justice, SOMA Action Religious Justice, SOMA Justice

Take & Make: Pick Up a Project to Complete at Home

May 3-7, Mini Carp Kite – Maplewood Main Library • Maplewood Memorial Library

May 10-13, LED Origami Butterfly – Maplewood Hilton Library • Maplewood Memorial Library

May 17-21, Dr. Salim Ali’s Peacock – Maplewood Main Library • Maplewood Memorial Library

On Demand Virtual Storytimes – Maplewood Library YouTube Channel and www.maplewoodlibrary.org

May 7, AAPI Preschool Storytime (Mary, Hilton Branch) • Maplewood Memorial Library

May 14, AAPI Preschool Storytime (Amelia, Main Library) • Maplewood Memorial Library

May 21, AAPI Storytime (Mary, Hilton Branch) • Maplewood Memorial Library

May 28, AAPI Family Storytime • Maplewood Memorial Library

AAPI Heritage Month 2021 Planning Groups

SOMA Cross Cultural Works

The Mission of SOMA Cross Cultural Works (SCCW) is to educate the community about its rich cultural diversity through support of multicultural artistic and educational events and programs that celebrate and embrace diversity and inclusion. SOMA Cross Cultural Works, a community non-profit based in Maplewood, NJ, was behind the inaugural Diwali Fest NJ – the festival of lights and one of the most widely celebrated South Asian holidays; Lunar Fest NJ, to start the year according to the lunar calendar and one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Asia; and Hola Fest, the area's first festival celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

SOMAAsian

The mission of SOMAAsian is to bring out the Asian in South Orange and Maplewood (SOMA), New Jersey By doing so, SOMAAsian hopes that Asian-Americans who are considering moving to the towns of South Orange and Maplewood will understand that SOMA is a terrific place to raise a family with a supportive Asian community.

SOMA JUSTICE

Addressing Race and Inequality in South Orange and Maplewood. Founded in 2016, SOMA Justice is a group of local volunteers working to promote racial justice and safe spaces for people of color (POC) in South Orange, Maplewood and surrounding communities in New Jersey. SOMA Justice focuses on community activism and advocacy, education, and fellowship. More than 1,000 members are active both through social media and in-person advocacy and engagement.

SOMA ACTION Racial Justice and SOMA ACTION Religions Justice

After the heartbreaking 2016 election, residents of Maplewood, South Orange, and neighboring communities were searching for answers to the question, “What can we do?” A few dozen people came together to create SOMA ACTION, with the goal of channeling the concerns of the communities into effective action. Since then, SOMA ACTION has become a force for progressive change in SOMA and across New Jersey.

Primary Month-Long Sponsors: Adamson Ramsey Homes – Keller Williams Realty, Elizabeth Tapia – Guaranteed Rate, Seton Hall University and CVF Properties – Keller Williams Realty

Additional Sponsors: BCB Bank, Kokoro, Maplewood Village Alliance, SOMA Families Meetup