Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Blog
- Posted byon May 22, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
I am honored to serve in this Administration’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is grounded in the fundamental premise that no community is invisible to its government. When President Obama re-established the Initiative, we embraced our charge to engage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) nationally and connect them with federal policymakers and resources.
I have grown up in and around grassroots organizations that have molded my consciousness – community health centers, AAPI legal advocacy organizations and places of worship – institutions that are leading, innovating and building strategies in alignment with federal agencies’ priorities to improve the health and wellbeing of the community. These organizations are effectively leveraging the unique cultural and communal assets that already exist within AAPI communities as tools to inform and empower.
- Posted byon May 21, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
As Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, I am proud to be part of an agency that touches the lives of almost every American throughout the lifespan. For many, we represent the “face of government,” and we take this responsibility very seriously.
We recently sponsored a roundtable in collaboration with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Many national advocates attended, including representatives from the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and other key AAPI organizations.
We discussed the critical role that Social Security plays in the economic well-being of AAPIs, and we also explored issues related to service access. In particular, we reviewed some of the unique communication challenges that AAPIs, who speak over one hundred languages and dialects, face when trying to utilize government services.
- Posted byon May 18, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
Like many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, University of Texas student Ver Starr didn’t know much about viral hepatitis when his fraternity decided to make the disease the focus of their Spring 2012 Philanthropy Week. Ver remembered getting vaccinated as a child, and he and his brothers had heard enough to know that Hepatitis B was a special concern for the AAPI community, but not much else. After he began planning for Philanthropy Week, though, he was astonished to learn that although AAPIs make up approximately 5% of the US population, we comprise over 50% of Americans with chronic Hepatitis B. This means approximately 1 in 12 AAPIs are living with Hepatitis B.
Unfortunately, he also learned that despite these alarming statistics, many AAPIs are not tested for Hepatitis B, and most of those living with the disease do not know it. For many, Hepatitis B is a "silent" disease, and decades can pass without any noticeable symptoms. Tragically, many people find out about the infection for the first time the same way Ver's high school friend's mother did, only after developing Hepatitis B-related liver cancer. For many patients, including Ver's friend's mother, it is often too late to save their lives.
- Posted byon May 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
This month we celebrate an American community whose cultural heritage is so diverse that it has gilded the mountain tops of the Himalayas and soared down the shimmering rivers of Laos. It is a heritage that represents cutting-edge innovation in the West Coast and a vision of triumph in the Gulf Coast. It is a heritage that has shaped the values and ethics of generation after generation across the globe, and demonstrated an unflinching resilience in deriving possibility out of improbable circumstances. It is a heritage whose community in the United States boasts more than 100 languages & dialects, spans 40 national origins, and is 17 million strong.
In essence, the deep-seeded traditions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community represent the very spirit, and the very best, of the American dream. Every day, two million AAPIs breathe life into small businesses—the lifeblood of our economy. And with over one million AAPI-owned firms in our country, such enterprises not only generate more than $300 billion dollars in annual sales, but they also employ 50 percent of all workers at minority firms nationwide.
- Posted byon May 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
The observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is in full swing across the country. They include festive celebrations of ethnic foods, traditional dances and speeches about the history of AAPIs in the United States.
As an immigrant who had to learn a new language and culture, I appreciate the needs of the newly-arrived and those who struggle to make a life in the United States. Having worked for twenty years as a community organizer for AAPIs and other underserved communities before joining the Obama Administration, I have advocated for changes in federal, state and city governments to improve access for undeserved communities to essential government services. Now the tables are turned. As the Interagency Working Group representative for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at the White House Initiative on AAPIs, I am tasked with working with our HUD team to effectuate changes at HUD according to our agency plan. I am proud to say that HUD has undertaken significant steps under the leadership of Secretary Shaun Donovan to improve services for AAPIs. Here are some examples:
- Posted byon May 15, 2012 at 9:34 AM EDT
According to the most recent census numbers, over the last decade, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities have been among the fastest growing communities in the country (1). From 2000-2010, the Asian American population grew by 43.3%, outpacing growth of the Latino population over the same period. The Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders population grew by 35.4% in the decade. In 2011, AAPIs made up 5.1% of the labor force, including close to 7.5 million workers of Asian descent and close to half a million Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. By 2020, Asian Americans are expected to comprise 5.7 percent of the U.S. labor force (2).
Like many other groups in the U.S., Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders suffered through the most recent recession. As the economy strengthens, however, the AAPI community has been at the forefront of the recovery.
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