There are two promising beginnings for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders this month! Firstly, last December 9, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra launched the Biden-Harris Administration’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI). This is in compliance with Executive Order 14031. “Advancing Equity, Justice, and Opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.” Second, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai was announced as the co-chair for WHIAANHPI and the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
The new WHIAANHPI returns under HHS again where it was first launched in 1999 under the Clinton Administration. This is in response to the health inequities being faced by the AA and NHPI communities, the disproportionate impact that the community is going through because of COVID-19 pandemic, and the rising anti-Asian bias fueled by this.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that this move “represents an important step in reinvigorating this historic initiative.” He added that the administration is “committed to tackling a wide scope of challenges impacting communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved,” and that he looks forward to working with Ambassador Katherine Tai.
Mutually, Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative expressed her honor in being the co-chair for WHIAANHPI, stating further “President Biden, Vice President Harris and the entire Administration are committed to creating a more equal, just, and inclusive America. Leading this initiative with Secretary Becerra will be a critical part of our work across government to expand opportunity, confront systemic barriers to success, and address the rising violence targeted at the AA and NHPI community.”
This newly expanded Initiative includes an Interagency Task Force (this coordinates federal government efforts to support AA and NHPI communities) and a Regional Network (this comprises federal officials in ten federal regions who will help connect grants, programs, and resources to AA and NHPI communities).
WHIAANHPI under the new administration carries the missions to create a comprehensive response and serve the AA and NHPI community against injustices—from the rise of anti-Asian hate and systemic lack of disaggregated data to various economic disparities like education, health, and housing.
To learn more about WHIAANHPI, visit https://www.hhs.gov/about/whiaanhpi/index.html. You can also watch the official launch here.