President Biden on Friday will sign an executive order to reinstate a White House initiative tasked with advancing “equity, justice and opportunity” for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
"[For] far too long, systemic barriers to equity, justice, and opportunity have put the American dream out of reach for many AA and NHPI communities, and racism, nativism, and xenophobia against AA and NHPI communities continues to threaten safety and dignity of AA and NHPI families," the White House said in a fact sheet released early Friday.
The new initiative will work to implement an “ambitious, whole-of-government agenda” to deliver on these goals, the White House said.
The initiative will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House said, and will seek to mitigate anti-Asian bias erroneously linked to the pandemic. It will also work to advance health care and recovery in the AA and NHPI communities, as these groups work to recover both from the coronavirus pandemic as well as a sharp uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes. Such crimes increased by nearly 150% in the year 2020, according to an analysis from the California State University at San Bernardino.
Among other things, the White House initiative will seek to address disparities in education for AA and NHPI students, expand language and assistance programs across federal programs, and promote civic engagement for AA and NHPI communities, including involvement in the electoral process – an area where the AAPI community has emerged as a small but powerful force.
The executive order will also renew a presidential advisory commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, which will promote “policies to address anti-Asian xenophobia and violence, ways to build capacity in AA and NHPI communities through federal grantmaking, and policies to address the intersectional barriers that AA and NHPI women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities face.”
The White House initiative will also address the “systemic lack of disaggregated data” on the AA and NHPI communities in federal statistical systems, which together make up the “fastest growing ethnic group” in the United States. It will be led by Krystal Ka'ai, a native Hawaiian who currently serves as the director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
News of the White House initiative comes just days after President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – a bill that was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and comes amid a sharp uptick in anti-Asian violence in the United States linked, in large part, to the coronavirus pandemic.