Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the many contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made to our great nation. As the head of the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs, I have the privilege of working with many dedicated AAPIs across the federal government. These public servants work on diverse and compelling issues that impact the AAPI community, such as rebuilding the economy, implementing new health care laws, expanding public transportation and livable communities, protecting our civil rights, and reforming our schools.
One of the great highlights of my job is working with our three AAPI Cabinet members:
Secretaries Chu, Locke, and Shinseki are wonderful examples of AAPIs contributing to this Administration and why it is important to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. Of course, there is not one AAPI community. AAPIs hail from over 30 countries and ethnic groups. They speak over 100 different languages and number more than 16 million. According to the 2010 Census, the Asian American population grew faster than any other race over the past decade.
This tremendous growth speaks to our country’s bright future and what AAPIs can and will contribute, but also reflects the challenges of a diverse and disparate population. For every successful AAPI serving in this Administration, there are thousands of taxicab drivers, restaurant workers, fishermen, and nail salon workers who struggle to earn a decent living. That’s why the White House Initiative on AAPIs includes an effort by more than 20 federal agencies to improve the availability of federal services to underserved AAPIs. This is a historic effort, and speaks to the commitment of the Obama Administration to better assist our AAPI community.
As we kick off AAPI Heritage Month, I encourage you to visit this website each day to read about the significant work taking place to improve the lives of all Americans by the many dedicated AAPIs in the federal government.
Chris Lu is Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary.