Do you want to start your own business? Are you the victim of racial discrimination? Is your son or daughter getting bullied at school? Are you in a situation that might warrant federal government help?
Leaders at the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIS) want you to know they can help Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with a wide variety of issues. They are strong believers the Asian American community needs to be more vocal in asking for help. That’s why they held a conference call with Asian media members and bloggers, to help spread the word.
During the call they discussed upcoming community engagement activities, including the launch of an AAPI Video Contest. Eddie Lee, who organized the conference, says it has never been more important for Asian American Pacific Islanders to speak out and be heard. “ My priority is to engage all of you to make sure you are sharing your personal stories with our commission. We need to hear from you. We can help.”
The group does everything from facilitate town hall meetings so politicians can hear concerns to helping those fighting discrimination problems in the workplace. They also champion resources for those less fortunate and work on health care issues that affect the Asian American community.
The White House Initiative recognizes the importance of engaging AAPI media outlets, to provide meaningful dialogue with the broader AAPI community to create new partnerships and collaborations.
According to the 2010 Census, the Asian American population grew faster than any other race in this country over the past 10 years – 43 percent from 2000 to 2010. Initiative leaders say this growth creates an urgent need to understand everyday problems facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country.
President Obama reauthorized the White House Initiative on AAPIs to understand what these issues mean for our federal government. He wants to connect the community with needed programs and make reforms to create stability that will remove barriers for AAPIs.
Miya Saika Chen, the initiative’s advisor of community engagement, says her organization works across 23 federal agencies and has access to amazing resources. “There are so many Asian Americans who don’t know what resources are available. No community should be invisible. We’ve discovered many issues affecting society in general are an even bigger deal in Asian American communities.”
Initiative leaders say a good example of that is school bullying. A recent study showed 17.5 percent of Asian school children have reported being bullied in school, yet many of the victims and their parents don’t know there are resources that can help.
Chen also spoke about the efforts during the oil spill on the Gulf Coast last year. She traveled there on behalf of the initiative to help Asian American fishermen and women deal with the stress of losing their livelihood. “We found that community groups often were the best at these kinds of situations. They have the answers and are the most culturally competent. But we just came in as a resource and found that our biggest contribution we could help with was mental health assistance. We let those in need know we’re here to help and support.”
The group urges all Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in Minnesota to contact them whenever they face an issue, especially if you’re not getting help from other agencies. They say they may not be able to help in all cases, but they can at least assist you in finding other agencies that can.
You can reach the initiative by logging on to their website at www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/aapi, where you can email them questions. The Initiative will also soon be announcing a national video contest, where they are asking Asian Americans from all over the country to send a two or three minute video via YouTube, that shares your personal story about your cultural roots. Details on the contest will be announced shortly on their website.