A Message from the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs
On behalf of the Co-Chairs of the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Secretary Wilbur L. Ross, as well as the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the Initiative is proud to join President Donald J. Trump in commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Throughout this month, we celebrate the rich history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States as well as recognize the many contributions of AAPIs. In these unprecedented challenging times, we are profoundly grateful for the outpour of donations and the many community partnerships in support of healthcare workers, hospitals, small businesses, and community centers by many AAPIs throughout our country. We are a resilient community; we have withstood many challenges in our nation’s history, and I know we will come out of this stronger. We are also extremely proud of the AAPI businesses and individuals who are on the frontlines – including healthcare workers and emergency responders as well as those in essential services such as mail delivery, grocery stores, laundry services, and many others.
The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continues to work to broaden Asian American and Pacific Islander access to economic resources and opportunities and thus empower AAPIs to improve the quality of their lives, raise the standard of living of their families and communities, and more fully participate in our economy. Many of the more than 1.9 million AAPI-owned enterprises are small sole-proprietorships that need assistance to access available resources such as business development counseling, small-business loans, and government procurement opportunities. Today’s AAPI workforce is the largest it has been in American history, and we will continue striving toward furthering AAPI advancement in employment and workforce development as well as increasing AAPI participation and representation in the upper levels of leadership in the public and private sectors.
The AAPI Heritage Month coincides with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, which was completed on May 10, 1869. In 1977, a resolution was passed to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a month-long celebration in the month of May.
Throughout this month, WHIAAPI looks forward to hosting virtual and/or in-person events to commemorate AAPI Heritage Month. Please stay tuned for future announcements. We look forward to celebrating with AAPIs across our great nation!
TINA WEI SMITH
Executive Director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders