In a first, US releases equity and justice strategy for Asian-Americans
The strategy lists out core priorities, traces steps taken by the administration to achieve these goals, and has an action plan prepared by 32 federal agencies, including all 15 cabinet departments in the executive branch of the US government.
In a sign of the growing political and demographic weight of Asian-Americans, the Joe Biden administration released America’s first ever national strategy to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities on Tuesday.
The strategy lists out core priorities, traces steps taken by the administration to achieve these goals, and has an action plan prepared by 32 federal agencies, including all 15 cabinet departments in the executive branch of the US government. These communities together constitute 7% of America’s population.
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The strategy has listed out seven priority areas. The first is promoting “belonging and inclusion of AA and NHPI communities and combating anti-Asian hate and discrimination” where the strategy recognises that anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 73% from 2019 to 2020. The second is ensuring disaggregated data collection to measure the diversity of the experiences of these communities to help understand the “intersecting identities of AA and NHPI populations based on sex, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and socioeconomic status”. The third is promoting greater language access for limited English proficient communities, based on a recognition that these groups speak more than 100 languages and dialects.
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Recognising that the pandemic deepened inequities within these communities, the national strategy’s fourth priority is to promote and equitable and inclusive Covid-19 response and recovery. Fifth, it aims to strengthen capacity building to compete for federal grants, contracts and other opportunities - “although approximately 10% of small businesses in the United States are AA and NHPI-owned, only 2.8% of federal contracting dollars went to AA and NHPI small businesses in Fiscal Year 2020”.
The strategy’s sixth priority is to promote AA and NHPI representation across all levels of the federal government. While they constitute 6% of the senior positions in the executive, Southeast Asian American, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander communities are under-represented. And, the final priority is to help these communities connect to federal resources.
The national strategy is built on an executive order Biden issued in May 2021, where he recognised these communities as “irrefutable sources of our nation’s strength”, credited them for making the US stronger and more vibrant, and adding to the richness of America’s multicultural democracy. Biden had said that AA and NHPI communities constitute the “fastest growing ethnic group” in the US, but had, for too long, “faced systemic barriers to equity, justice and opportunity”.
In particular, the executive order had pointed to socioeconomic, health and educational disparities; linguistic isolation; perpetuation of stereotypes that ignore disparities within the communities; and “anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, racism, and nativism”, including during the pandemic. “Long before this pandemic, AA and NHPI communities in the United States - including South Asian and Southeast Asian communities - have faced persistent xenophobia, religious discrimination, racism, and violence.”
The order then established the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. “Both will work to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities in the United States.”