Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon October 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM EST
Filipino Americans have been an important part of our nation’s diverse history. Since their first documented arrival in Morro Bay, California in October 1587, Filipino Americans have made remarkable contributions to every sector of American life, including government, business, and the military.
Indeed, in 1941, more than 250,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms and later fought under the American flag during World War II. Many made the ultimate sacrifice as both soldiers in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East and as guerilla fighters during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Later, many of these brave individuals became proud United States citizens. For over 60 years, Filipino veterans and community advocates have fought to obtain compensation for those who served with American soldiers during World War II.
President Obama recognizes the extraordinary contribution made by Filipino veterans. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which the President signed into law, contained a provision creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. Eligible veterans who are U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $15,000; eligible veterans who are not U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $9,000. The Department of Veterans Affairs established a process, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, to determine eligibility to receive payments from the Fund.
- Posted byon August 27, 2012 at 9:21 AM EST
From Main Street shops to high-tech startups, America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are the engine of our economy and one of our country’s greatest assets. The country’s 28 million small firms employ half of the private sector workforce and have, over the last two decades, been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs.
Over the past decade, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) owned small businesses have seen particularly strong growth. From 2002 to 2007, the number of AAPI businesses grew from 1.06 million to 1.50 million. However, over 17% of AAPI business had no access to start-up capital, and close to 23% of AAPI businesses had only $5000 of start-up capital. President Obama has taken strong action to expand capital access for AAPI small businesses, directing more than $13 billion dollars to 19,000 AAPI firms to alleviate these start-up capital deficiencies. See an infographic detailing this here.
- Posted byon August 14, 2012 at 9:15 AM EST
On August 5, 2012, a 40-year-old man entered a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin shortly before Sunday services and opened fire, resulting in the deaths of six people. The investigation into this issue is still ongoing.
That day, the President convened a call with FBI Director Bob Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan to receive an update on the tragic shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. During the briefing, the President directed that the federal government assist as appropriate in the investigation into the shooting. Following that briefing, the President called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi, and trustee of the Sikh gurdwara Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured.
Also on August 5, the President released the following statement:
Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin. At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded. My Administration will provide whatever support is necessary to the officials who are responding to this tragic shooting and moving forward with an investigation. As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.
On August 6, the President issued a Presidential Proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy in Oak Creek and ordering that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff until August 10, 2012. And at a bill signing event, the President responded to a question from reporters about the incident:
If it turns out, as some early reports indicate, that it may have been motivated in some way by the ethnicity of those who were attending the temple, I think the American people immediately recoil against those kinds of attitudes, and I think it will be very important for us to reaffirm once again that, in this country, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, who we worship, we are all one people, and we look after one another and we respect one another.
- Posted byon August 13, 2012 at 9:00 AM EST
Almost 20 years ago, my office received a growing tide of public complaints, often phrased as “I can’t find myself,” in the list of categories that provide a “common language” to promote comparability in data on race and ethnicity provided to the Federal Government – whether directly by individuals, for example on their Census forms, or indirectly by institutions, for example by schools on their students. Back then, the list of racial category options was short and was paired with instructions to “choose one.” This did not sit well with many parents of children with diverse and complex racial and ethnic heritages, nor, as it turned out, with Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
I distinctly remember one educator from Hawaii reporting abundant data on school performance for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs), and how their results drastically differed from outcomes for Asians more generally. The statistics presented were staggering.
- Posted byon August 11, 2012 at 9:34 AM EST
I’m currently at the 2012 London Olympics observing history unfold before me. Every time I watch U.S. athletes stand on the podium to receive their medals, whether it be Gabrielle Douglas’s inaugural time or Michael Phelps’ record-setting 21st time, I am reminded about our journeys to this podium, and in particular our commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle by balancing a nutritious diet with regular exercise.
However, as Olympians, even though many of our careers may sometimes shorter than we’d like and endlessly exciting, we are presented with this unparalleled opportunity to serve as role models to the millions of children worldwide who are captivated by the Olympics well after our professional athletic careers. It is an occasion to be a transformative presence in the lives of children by inspiring their passions, honing their leadership skills and encouraging them to challenge the status quo.
This comes at a time when childhood obesity is on the rise, which causes an elevated risk for a myriad of chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, various types of cancers, osteoarthritis and psychosocial problems. Childhood obesity is of great concern in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities. Indeed, roughly 1 out of 5 NHPI high school youth are obese, which is one of the highest percentages among all racial groups in the United States, and 1 out of 3 NHPI high school youth are likely to be overweight or obese.
As an Asian American, these statistics are not just numbers to me; each captures a snapshot of the lives of real people in our communities. They serve as a sobering reminder of the health challenges confronting our AAPI community but more importantly they motivate me to teach children at an early age that the balance between a nutritious diet and regular exercise is integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The most important takeaway that I have learned from skating professionally for most of my life is that there are things we have to do before we can do the things we want to do. Indeed, my daily routine was brutal when I was competing full time. I had 12 hour days where I would eat the same foods at the exact same time of the day for 365 days of the year. I’m certainly not trying to convey that everyone should exercise or maintain a diet like that of someone who is training for the athletic competitions but I do think it is very possible for us to make a consistent effort to have a more balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
We are all well-positioned to spread this message of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle by balancing a nutritious diet with regular exercise message through the decisions and choices we actively make every day. While individual lifestyle changes are necessary, our efforts must also be community-wide involving a concerted effort from teachers, parents, schools, community leaders and elected officials in order to promote the message of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
This is just the beginning of many conversations we hope to have as we continue to shine the torch on the health living community.
Apolo Anton Ohno is an American short track speed skating competitor, an eight-time medalist in the Winter Olympics, and serves on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Posted byon August 10, 2012 at 8:26 AM EST
Earlier this year, I had the most amazing opportunity – to be part of a dynamic and creative team of people who are making it easier for high-school students and adult learners to achieve their dreams of going to college. I work at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) which provides over $150 billion in grants, loans and work-study funds every year to individuals going to college and career schools. This summer, we launched a new website along with a Facebook page, a Twitter account and, a YouTube channel. Each of these new resources are designed to make it easier for students and parents to understand and navigate the financial aid process.
What makes it exciting for me is that I know these new resources will help Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders like me achieve their dreams for higher education. I, along with many of my family members and friends, was able to go to college and graduate school because we had access to financial aid. Below is an overview of all of FSA’s new resources that you can now take advantage of. I hope you take the time to go through the resources and that they help you achieve your academic dreams.
White House Blogs
- The White House Blog
- Middle Class Task Force
- Council of Economic Advisers
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Council on Women and Girls
- Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Office of Management and Budget
- Office of Public Engagement
- Office of Science & Tech Policy
- Office of Urban Affairs
- Open Government
- Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships
- Social Innovation and Civic Participation
- US Trade Representative
- Office National Drug Control Policy