Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon November 14, 2012 at 5:43 PM EDT
On Tuesday afternoon, for the fourth year, the White House celebrated Diwali, a holiday observed annually by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhist throughout India and across the world. Known as the “festival of lights,” Diwali offers time for both reflection and celebration. Its stories and rituals focus on the triumph of light over darkness and compassion over hatred. The day signifies the renewal of life and the promise of prosperity for the year to come.
- Posted byon November 14, 2012 at 4:15 PM EDT
Two weeks ago, the East Coast was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, a powerful storm that halted our transportation systems, shut off power for millions, flooded our communities, and displaced families. Two days after the hurricane made landfall, President Obama visited the devastated areas, reassuring families and residents that the federal government would be on hand to provide support and assistance until our homes and businesses are rebuilt. Since that time, the President and the entire federal government has committed all available resources to recovery and relief efforts. Federal, state, tribal, local, faith-based and voluntary agency partners have been working around the clock to ensure coordination in the impacted areas and provide necessities to survivors and families, such as food, bottled water, clothing, infant formula, and housing.
In addition, the federal government, in partnership with state, tribal, local, faith-based, voluntary agency leaders, is committed to ensuring that all populations who have been impacted by the hurricane, including immigrant communities and individuals and families with limited English proficiency have the ability to access disaster services and resources in their languages.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been on the ground even before Hurricane Sandy made landfall to ensure that emergency preparedness plans were in place. Since then, FEMA has been working tirelessly to coordinate federal recovery efforts, and currently has more than 7,400 personnel working alongside state and local partners in the impacted areas.
Click here to learn more about just some of the federal disaster resources available for survivors of Hurricane Sandy. Many of these services and information can be accessed in languages other than English.
Courtney Chappell is a Senior Advisor with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
- Posted byon October 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM EDT
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 10:21 AM EDT
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 10:15 AM EDT
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 10:00 AM EDT
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.
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