Tag Archives: AAPI Month

AAPI Heritage Month wrap-up: Aside from Goodwin Liu, not bad this year

This year, the White House has used its blog to get out the word about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which they call by the updated inclusive AAPI. It would have been nice to use more high profile media to get out the word, TV spots, PSAs, but the cyber media is cost-effective and viral. And at least we’re not invisible.

So here’s the  final installment, a reflection as the Month ends from inside the beltway

From my perspective, it’s definitely a positive and upbeat spin. That’s great.

But you can’t be happy with what happened with Goodwin Liu. That remains a travesty.

I still wish Liu had fought on. But you can’t lose taking the high road. The Ninth Circuit has such a back log that delaying the nomination any more would have made a bad situation worse. Liu’s supporters could have used that to pressure the GOP, but in the end, there was no political will to move on. Better to use the situation as a graceful way to exit, and then let the community seek its revenge on the GOP in the next election.

So, aside from the Liu affair,  this year’s heritage month was for the most part,  a positive one for all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. But let’s not  stop here. Every month is heritage month, right?


Reflecting on the Month of May
Posted by Kiran Ahuja on May 31, 2011 at 12:49 PM EDT
What an incredible month of celebration it has been. As Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month draws to a close, we are honored and humbled by the many great strides our Federal agency colleagues have made on behalf of the AAPI community, by our dynamic and tenacious staff and community partners, and by the principled and visionary leadership of our President.
In one short month, we have engaged in a flurry of activity, bringing Federal agencies together with the AAPI community. Administration leaders on the economy, immigration, healthcare, education and civil rights kicked off the month by briefing over 400 AAPI community members on these critical issues in Washington, DC. We then joined with the Council on Women and Girls and the Department of Labor to hold two nationwide conference calls on AAPI women and immigration.
In response to the AAPI community’s rapid population growth between 2000 and 2010, we partnered with Census Bureau officials to hold an in-person briefing and webinar with a complete analysis of the rapid growth of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders throughout the country over the last decade.
We worked with the National Healthy Nail Salon Alliance to hold the first Federal interagency roundtable at the Environmental Protection Agency focused on nail salon workers and the cosmetics industry, one of the fastest growing industries in the country and predominantly comprised of Asian immigrant women. Women workers and salon owners spoke directly about their daily experiences handling toxic chemicals to a room full of Federal officials and provided concrete recommendations on how to improve working conditions.
We convened a gathering at the White House with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) AAPI youth and Federal agency representatives. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Queer Justice Fund brought 19 youth from diverse communities across the country to speak about their journeys, challenges and triumphs growing up in this country. Federal officials from across the Administration listened and committed to incorporating the needs of this community into bullying prevention, comprehensive sex education, and HIV preventions programs.
We also connected with AAPI communities in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and Seattle. For example, we met with students, teachers and administrators of the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) program at South Seattle Community College. The AANAPISI team shared lessons on how we can more effectively reach AAPI students in community colleges especially since almost have of all AAPI students attend community colleges and struggle to balance financial burdens, family obligations and school responsibilities. In fact, AANAPISIs are now included on the Department of Education’s website listing of postsecondary institutions enrolling populations with significant percentages of minority students.
And we published blogs by Administration colleagues, highlighting the motivation behind their work and impact on the AAPI community. From a personal story about a father inspiring his son to become a primary care doctor for poor communities and go on to become a Chief Medical Officer in the Health Resources and Services Administration; to a celebration of AAPI veterans and service members. These blogs provide a glimpse of the individuals diligently working in the Federal government to improve the lives of all Americans.
For the Initiative, AAPI Heritage Month is every month. Though May gives us a special reason to celebrate and acknowledge both the AAPI communities’ contributions and challenges, these are issues and concerns we seek to address every day. We know that our ability to do our job well rests on the great partnerships we have with community, philanthropic and business leaders and Federal agencies, but also on the dedicated staff who work tirelessly to live up to the guiding principle the President set when he signed the Executive Order establishing the White House Initiative on AAPIs that, no community should be invisible to its government.

Kiran Ahuja is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

White House AAPI Initiative: Trying to give more meaning to Asian Pacific American Heritage month in May

The White House is using APA month in May to launch its Asian American Pacific Island Initiative, which hopes to continue what the Clinton administration had started and what the Bush administration ignored.

Kiran Ahuja, the White House initiative’s executive director,acknowledged that the Clinton administration did a lot of work in the tail end of its tenue by identifiying issue areas like education and health as Asian American community concerns. But the Bush administration, she said scaled back the scope and focused on entrepeneurship in its day before finally letting the  White Hous initiative die.

Now Ahuja said she plans to build on the work of the Clinton administration, essentially making up for lost time and lost momentum.

“We’re ready to hit the ground running,” Ahuja told a telephone news conference. The broader focus will include data collection on education, health care and jobs to help identify where Asian Americans are underserved. “We know across the board there are barriers to the community being engaged.”

Ahuja was not specific but said the May roll out will begin an effort that will include  high level agency heads in the government meeting with community leaders.

Again, a good first step as a show of concern for our community. But it does also show how the community has been ignored in some vital areas during the Bush years.