April 24, 2023

Recognizing AAPI Women



March is Women’s History Month! AAPI women have played key roles in furthering civil rights for all people. We'd like to dedicate this month's newsletter to all the AAPI women who have worked so hard on behalf of all Americans.

From Grace Lee Boggs, Patsy Mink and Yuri Kochiyama to Grace Meng, Tammy Duckworth, Judy Chu, Mazie Hirono, and Vice President Kamala Harris, AAPI women have played key roles in US politics and the civil rights movement. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the AAPI Caucus is highlighting Erika Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President and the inaugural White House Senior Liaison to the AAPI community. Born in California, raised in Hawaii, and the child of fourth-generation Japanese and fifth-generation Chinese immigrant parents, Ms. Moritsugu was previously a civil rights activist, a congressional aide and an administration official before President Biden appointed her as the inaugural White House Senior Liaison to the AAPI community in April 2021. Read about her in this New York Times Article: At White House, Asian American Liaison Juggles Celebrations and Crises.

But it doesn't stop there. Congresswoman Grace Meng received a 2023 Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund ( AALDEF) Justice in Action Award just last week. This award recognizes exceptional individuals for their outstanding achievements and efforts to advance social justice. In accepting the award, Rep. Meng noted that several years ago, she had the honour of presenting the award to the late Rep. John Lewis, “who was a huge inspiration to me and so many other Americans. I’m humbled and proud to receive it now myself.” 
Harsha G. Marti, Managing Director and General Counsel at Warburg Pincus, and CeFaan Kim, ABC News correspondent and WABC-TV reporter, also received 2023 AALDEF Justice in Action Awards.

In popular culture this month, our AAPI community stepped up to the plate and delivered. The movie "Everything Everywhere All At Once" won 7 Oscar awards, putting not only AAPI culture and experiences front and center but awarding Michelle Yeoh Best Actress - the first time in the history of the Academy of Motion Pictures that an Asian woman has won this award.

News of Note

Making Our Communities Safer

 March 16 marks the second anniversary of the Atlanta massacre that sparked the national movement against anti-Asian hate. 

On March 14, President Biden signed the Executive Order on Reducing Gun Violence and Making Our Communities Safer following last year’s passing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant bipartisan gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years. The Act provides communities with new tools to combat gun violence, including enhanced gun background checks for individuals under age 21, funding for extreme risk protection orders and other crisis interventions, and increased mental health resources to help children impacted by gun violence heal from the resulting grief and trauma.

The AAPI Caucus supports the new Executive Order, which will seek to ensure that executive departments and agencies will pursue every legally available and appropriate action to reduce gun violence. 

In remembrance of all those who have been victims of anti-Asian hate crimes, we continue to urge all levels of government to combat the needless tragedies caused by gun violence. 

Book Review: Stay True - a memoir by Hua Hsu

Hua Hsu is a professor of literature at Bard College and a staff writer for the New Yorker. He was previously a music critic. 

Stay True is a beautifully written story of two unlikely friends, one a yonsei (several generations Japanese American) and the other the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who met at university in the 1990s, told amongst the soundtrack of music from the period. It explores the nature of friendship and tragedy, and while it is a memoir, the story is moving, sad, funny, and engaging (think Crying in H Mart). It was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2022 by The New York Times and The Washington Post, and was a finalist for the 2023 National Book Critics Circle award for autobiography.

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