Letter from the Chair
May is quickly approaching, which means Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is almost here! We’re working on getting together some great events for May and will be sharing them with you soon! You can already sign-up to join us online to celebrate the start of Heritage Month on Sunday, May 7th at 8am EDT.
For Heritage Month, we are also putting together a list of recommendations of works by members of the AAPI community. We always appreciate input from our members, so feel free to share books, podcasts, music, or articles that you have read that you think others would also enjoy. Fill out this short survey (only 3 questions!) so we can share the list with everyone in May.
But April is not over yet and we don’t want to forget that April is Arab American Heritage Month. On April 19, 2021, President Biden designated April as Arab American Heritage Month to celebrate Arab Americans, Arab American culture and to recognize the contributions made by Arab Americans to U.S. society. As Ramadan comes to a close for this year, the AAPI Caucus joins in recognizing the contributions that our Arab American friends and colleagues continue to make and wish them well with their Heritage month activities.
We should also remember that April 22 is Earth Day. Often left out as a representative group in traditional surveys regarding the environment, Asian Americans in more targeted surveys, such as those by AAPI Data and other researchers (e.g. “Asian Americans: The Forgotten Minority in Ecology”), have shown that collectively Asian Americans have a greater understanding of the impacts of climate change than other groups.
- 83% of Asian Americans believe that climate change is occurring, compared to 71% of the U.S. population.
- 86% of Asian Americans also believe that taking action on climate change would provide a better future for their children, compared to 74% of the U.S. population.
- 48% of Asian Americans actively support climate change solutions both individually and politically compared to 36% of the U.S. population.
Environmental justice continues to be important to the various AAPI communities, particularly in states with large AAPI populations that have experienced climate catastrophes such as Hawaii, California and Texas. This Earth Day, the AAPI Caucus gives a big thanks to all the AAPI environmental grassroots organizations, with special mention to the Asia Pacific Environmental Network, whose grassroots activism, particularly in the immigrant and refugee communities in California, has gone a long way in promoting environmental justice and climate change action.
And as always, if you vote in one of the few states with an election in 2023, make sure you request your ballot today from VoteFromAbroad.org. We’re looking at you: Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia!
Chair, AAPI Caucus
Celebration of AAPI Heritage Month
Sunday, May 7th
8:00 am Washington, D.C
News of Note
Native Hawai’ian and Pacific Islander News:
Roadmap for a 21st Century U.S. Pacific Islands Partnership
Last year the Congressional Pacific Island Caucus assisted in organizing the first U.S. - Pacific Islands Summit. Following this historic summit in late September, President Biden announced $810 million in support of programs that will:
- Strengthen and Support U.S. - Pacific Islands Partnership
- Build U.S. Capacity in the Pacific
- Coordinate with Allies and Partners
- Take Urgent Action on the Climate Crisis, Clean Energy and Sustainable Infrastructure
- Forge Economic Partnership and Support Economic Recovery
- Bolster Security Cooperation and Maritime Protection
- Combat Covid-19 and Support Health Security
- Improve Digital Connectivity and Cyber Security
- Address War Legacies.
These strategies may address many of the key concerns raised by Pacific Islanders, including support for Blue Ocean initiatives and infrastructure damage caused by war.
Hawai’i Supreme Court Affirms the Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment
As reported recently by the Brennan Center, Hawai’ian Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilson in his recent opinion of a key case noted the “stark failure” of federal courts to address legal claims related to the growing climate emergency in Hawai’i. The case concerned the Hu Honua company’s plan to obtain regulatory approval to supply energy to Hawai’i by building a biomass power plant fueled by the burning of locally grown eucalyptus trees. The plan, which had initially been approved in 2019 by the Hawai’i Public Utility Commission, was successfully appealed for further consideration of the potential greenhouse emissions and other impacts on Hawai’ians if approval was granted. The commission hearing the appeal subsequently noted that individuals have a right to assert environmental interests, and that under the state constitution Hawai’ians have the right to a clean and healthful environment. Earlier this month the Hawai’ian Supreme Court ultimately denied the approval, with Justice Wilson noting that while Hawai’i’s courts have long ruled that that “life, liberty, [and] property… is so rooted in the traditions and collective consciousness of our people, that failure to recognize the right would strike at the foundation of society.” Read the full report here.
Recommended Reading and Listening
Book review: Activities of Daily Living, by Lisa Hsiao Chen
Activities of Daily Living has received five star and rave reviews from a number of critics and was one of the most anticipated novels of 2022 by The Millions. Longlisted for the 2022 Pen/Hemingway Award for debut novel, Activities of Daily Living follows a 30-something Taiwanese woman raised on the West Coast and now living in NYC working as a video editor. In her off time she works on a creative project researching an obscure performance artist who lived in NYC in the 1980s. The novel explores the connection between the creation of art and the passage of time in daily life.
New streaming series - American Born Chinese
American Born Chinese reunites the award-winning Everything, Everywhere, All at Once actors Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, and includes a guest appearance by Stephanie Hsu. Based on the graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, it tells the story of two Taiwanese immigrant teenage friends along with their encounters with Chinese mythology. It premieres May 24 on Disney+. Watch the trailer here.