President Biden touts community funding, COVID Hate Crimes Act signing in AANHPI Heritage Month proclamation

aapi heritage month proclamation
  • President Biden released the White House’s annual proclamation on Asian American, and now Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month for May, laying out how his administration is supportive of these communities.
  • Biden’s administration announced earlier this year that it would be using “AANHPI” instead of “AAPI,” to include Native Hawaiians. Hawaii is the only state to be considered having a majority AANHPI population.
  • AANHPIs are also the country’s fastest-growing racial group, with over 20 million people, or 6.1 percent of the total population, identifying as AANHPI.
  • It is predicted that by the year 2060, one in 10 children in the U.S. will be Asian American, bringing that number to 48 million, or 11.7% of the population.
  • In his proclamation, Biden shared that he was “proud” to have Vice President Kamala Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold the second-in-command role, as part of his administration.
  • The two key takeaways were Biden’s investments to the AA and NHPI communities, including funds specifically allocated to AANHPI causes and businesses, and legal action to combat anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes due to COVID-19.

President Biden released the White House’s annual proclamation on Asian American, and now Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month for May, laying out how his administration is supportive of these communities.

This year’s statement, released on April 29, celebrates the “innumerable contributions” and “vibrant cultures” of AA and NHPI.

Biden’s administration announced earlier this year that it would be using “AANHPI” instead of “AAPI,” to include Native Hawaiians. Hawaii is the only state to have a majority AANHPI population, with nearly 40% of the islands’ population being made up by Asian Americans.

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AANHPIs are also the country’s fastest-growing racial group, with over 20 million people, or 6.1% of the total population, identifying as AANHPI.

It is predicted that by the year 2060, one in 10 children in the U.S. will be Asian American, bringing that number to 48 million, or 11.7% of the population.

In his proclamation, Biden shared that he was “proud” to have Vice President Kamala Harris, the first person of South Asian descent to hold the second-in-command position, as part of his administration.

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The two key points touted by Biden are his investments in the AA and NHPI communities, including funds specifically allocated to AANHPI causes and businesses, and his signing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to combat anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes due to COVID-19. The bill gave law enforcement resources to better identify and investigate hate crimes, as well as AANHPI better resources to report hate crimes, was signed into law in May of last year.

Biden also emphasized the need to make healthcare more accessible for AA and NHPI communities. Hawaiian Natives and Pacific Islanders experienced some of the highest COVID-19 death rates among all ethnic groups in the U.S.

The idea of designating a month out of a year to recognize Asian Pacific Americans originated from former Capitol Hill staffer and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates Jeanie Jew, who initially argued for one week in May.

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The month of May marked two significant events: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in May 1843 and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in May 1860.

The Transcontinental Railroad significantly reduced travel times, shaving months down to weeks to get from one coast to the other. It was built by a majority-Chinese immigrant labor force, although the recognition came much later.

Jew’s own great grandfather, M.Y. Lee, was a Chinese immigrant and had taken part in building the Transcontinental Railroad. He was killed in Oregon during a time of deep anti-Asian sentiment. 

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Featured Image via PLBechly / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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