Letter from the Chair
Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We hope you have been able to take a moment to celebrate the accomplishments in our community over the past year. If you’re looking for some ways to celebrate, you could watch Everything, Everywhere All At Once or the new series BEEF. You can also check out this list of recommendations we received from our members of books and podcasts from members of the AAPI community. Check them out here.
On April 27th, President Biden issued a proclamation that celebrated the cultures, achievements and contributions of the diverse AANHPI people and communities. In his statement, President Biden acknowledges that despite many achievements and successes this year, the continuing struggle against anti-Asian racism and violence continues. He also discussed the actions his administration has taken in support of AANHPIs including his National Strategy to Advance Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawai’ian, and Pacific Islander Communities (as reported in our last newsletter). We appreciate the work of President Biden and Vice President Harris to support and celebrate our community.
As President Biden pointed out, we are aware that there are a lot of things to celebrate this month, but plenty of progress still needs to be made. Just last week, eight people were murdered in Allen, Texas at another shooting, which included four Asian Americans. We are tired of living in fear of gun violence. We are proud to be AAPI and we will not stop speaking up and taking action until all communities are safe from these senseless acts of violence.
So the best way for you to celebrate AAPI Heritage month is to make sure you have requested your ballot, especially if you vote in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. Help elect Democrats in your home states that will do what they can to protect the AAPI community and democracy. You can request your ballot today from VoteFromAbroad.org.
Chair, AAPI Caucus
With the Global Youth Caucus!
Crazy Rich Asians Screening
Saturday, May 27 at 9am CET (3:00AM ET)
With the Global Youth Caucus and DA China!
Blue Book Club Special: AAPI Heritage Focus
Sunday, May 28 at 9am CST
Native Hawai’ian and Pacific Islanders update
Bipartisan Compact Impact Fairness Act
Originally introduced in 2021 by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Representative Ed Case (D-Hawai‘i), and Representative Steve Womack (R-Arkansas), the bipartisan bill would amend the Compact Impact Fairness Act and extend the same federal benefits to citizens of the Freely Associated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands that are currently available to other legal permanent residents. President Biden has publicly backed the Bill and his 2024 Budget now calls for its passage. While providing benefits previously denied to migrants from these States, it will also potentially save these States millions of dollars.
Presidential Memorandum to Initiate a National Marine Sanctuary Designation
President Biden recently signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Commerce to initiate a marine sanctuary to expand protections around the Pacific Remote Islands southwest of Hawai’i. This potential new National Marine Sanctuary would conserve about 770,000 square miles, including the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and the currently unprotected submerged lands and waters. Following President Biden’s Memorandum, the Commerce Department directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to initiate a process to consider designating all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands as a national marine sanctuary. A sanctuary designation would provide additional layers of protection for the region’s important marine ecosystems, maritime heritage resources, and support the cultural heritage and values of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
News of Note
Vincent Chin Institute Launched
On April 26, U.S. Representative Judy Chu, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and other leaders launched the Vincent Chin Institute.
Who was Vincent Chin? In 1982, in an atmosphere of anti-Japanese hatred fueled by a perception by autoworkers that Japan was responsible for the decline in the American car manufacturing industry, Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American, was murdered in Detroit by white autoworkers. His tragic death led to the beginning of a national movement by diverse AAPI communities coming together in solidarity for equality, justice and an end to racial discrimination.
The Vincent Chin Institute is a national network which will advance solidarity, education and narrative change to end hate and empower underserved communities across the United States.
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center assisted the Vincent Chin Institute in development of the Vincent Chin Legacy guide, which is available in several Asian languages as well as English, Spanish and Arabic and is available to download here. It provides important historical context about “why we remember Vincent Chin and how his legacy helped ignite the pan-Asian civil rights movement, ultimately building a multiracial, multicultural coalition united for equal justice and human dignity which stands as a landmark of American history.”
Ban Racial Profiling Petition - add your name
In a recent report, the Brennan Center for Justice noted that Federal rules still allow for biased profiling by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. This means U.S. citizens continue to be targeted on the basis of race, religion, and ethnicity, particularly Black, Latino and Chinese Americans and Muslims.
BCJ notes that there is an opportunity now to close the loopholes that have allowed these agencies to target people based on biased profiling and has organized a petition calling on the White House to close these loopholes and stop racial profiling. The AAPI Caucus supports the banning of racial profiling by our Federal agencies and urges you to consider adding your name to the petition.
2023-2024 Rome Prize for Literature Winners
Congratulations to the four recipients of the 2023-2024 Rome Prize for Literature which was announced on April 24. This prestigious award provides a fellowship to undertake research and writing at the American Academy in Rome. This year’s recipients are all women, including two Asian American authors.
Katie Kitamura’s most recent book is Intimacies, which has been named by the New York Times, the Washington Post and Barack Obama’s Favourite Books, among others, as one of the best books of 2021.
Shruti Swamy’s debut novel is The Archer, winner of the 2022 California Book Award.
The other recipients of the award are novelist Elie Baufman and poet Erica Hunt.