LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek Kawakami joined a chorus applauding the Biden administration’s recent initiatives vowing to create a more-inclusive, equitable environment for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in the country.
“On behalf of the County of Kaua‘i, I am thrilled to see the Biden administration organize a national approach to combat anti-Asian bias and promote inclusion and opportunity for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders,” Kawakami said in a Friday statement.
“This initiative will ultimately promote inclusion and belonging for all Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities, and we look forward to seeing them in effect.”
On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra launched the Biden-Harris administration’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai will act as co-chair of both the initiative and the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.
“Returning the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to HHS, where it originated, represents an important step in reinvigorating this historic initiative,” Becerra said in a release.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to tackling a wide scope of challenges impacting communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved.”
Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country, and make up more than 10% of the population in the state. On Kaua‘i, Asian Americans make up 31% of the population, and about 9% identify as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
The re-launched initiative will include working groups tasked with coordinating the federal government’s efforts to support these communities, as well as regional networking with officials across the county to coordinate grants, programs and research.
“Mahalo nui to President Biden and his administration for relaunching the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders,” state Senate President Ron Kouchi said Thursday. “This whole-of-government approach to support AANHPI communities across the country will ensure we have a collective voice at the federal level.”
Kouchi also noted the appointment of Hawai‘i natives Krystal Ka‘ai and Erika Moritsugu to White House positions. “The administration’s decision to change the name of the initiative to explicitly include Native Hawaiians is testament to President Biden’s promise to elevate the voices of our most-underrepresented communities,” Kouchi said.
Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.