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Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Dark brown text says Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month in all caps is at the top of the picture. Under is a short centered line and the words United Our Voices By Speaking Together. The background is a pattern with various oranges, from pale orange to a bright orange. OPM.gov is in the corner in white text.

By Steve Shih, Deputy Associate Director for Senior Executive Services and Performance Management

Each May, the Federal Government recognizes Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – an opportunity to honor those Americans who can trace their ancestry to a multitude of countries in Asia, Hawaii and the Pacific Island territories, and for us to celebrate those who contribute in so many ways to the success of our Nation.  President Donald J. Trump recently issued a Proclamation recognizing May as AAPI Heritage Month, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), along with other Federal agencies, join President Trump in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

This special observance originated in June 1977, when Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Mineta of California called upon the President to proclaim the first 10 days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.  In October 1978, President Jimmy Carter expanded the observance as an annual celebration, and 12 years later President George H.W. Bush extended the week-long celebration to a month.  The official designation of May as Asian American and Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law in 1992.  The month of May was chosen to observe Asian and Pacific Americans for a number of reasons, including to commemorate the first Japanese who came to the country in May of 1843, and to mark the May 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad which involved the labor of many Chinese immigrants.

The AAPI community is made up of culturally and linguistically-diverse people, representing populations from many countries and islands.  The diversity of AAPIs – and the value of diversity in general to the excellence of our Nation – are reflected in the theme for this year’s celebration, “Unite Our Voices by Speaking Together.”  The theme speaks not only to the variety of AAPI experiences in the United States but encourages all Americans to join together to share our important individual experiences and to come together to make our Nation great.

Throughout the history of our country, our citizens from the AAPI community have made significant contributions exemplifying American values of hard work and perseverance.  Members of the AAPI community have excelled in so many patriotic and leading ways, including as artists; authors; athletes; teachers; scientists; doctors; engineers; lawyers; government leaders; and brave members of our Armed Forces.

OPM continues our commitment to helping the Federal Government achieve a strong and united workforce – a world-class workforce – to serve the American people.  AAPI Heritage Month reminds us we can best solve the complex and historic challenges of our time by solving them together; when we join our individual strengths, we unify and magnify our nation’s effectiveness. 

For information on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, please visit: http://asianpacificheritage.gov/ and http://asianpacificheritage.gov/about/.

 


graphic with Shades of tan background. Primary image is a sphere colored orange. Dark brown colored headline: ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH 2016. Dark colored subtext: EMBRACE DIFFERENCES- MANY CULTURES, ONE WALK.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month and is the perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the vast contributions AAPI communities make to both our nation and as part of the Federal workforce that serves the American people.

In the first year of his administration, the President signed an executive order reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs.

The President’s commitment to this fastest-growing racial group in our country has extended to every corner of his administration.

At OPM, I’m grateful that Kiran Ahuja, who for six years was the Executive Director of the WHIAAPI, now serves as our Chief of Staff. Michelle Lee serves as the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Chris Lu is the Deputy Secretary of Labor. Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy is the nation’s Surgeon General. Nani Coloretti serves as Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Deputy Secretary. And Esther Kia’aina is an Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Interior. These are just a few of the AAPI members who serve throughout the Administration.

As the President reminded us in his proclamation celebrating this month, AAPIs make up “one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse groups in America.” We should celebrate this diversity and also work to make sure that the Federal Government is providing the appropriate level and type of services to these varied communities.

“We are working across government to improve data collection to counter existing stereotypes and to shed light on the realities faced and resources needed by the AAPI community,” the President also said in his proclamation. 

As the AAPI population has grown, it has become increasingly clear that AAPI communities vary by immigration patterns, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, wealth accumulation, and much more.

In order to provide more accurate and meaningful information on the AAPI community to both policymakers and the public, Federal agencies are working to provide disaggregated AAPI data – that is data by individual ethnicities – whenever possible.

For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s American Housing Survey now includes AAPI subgroup data. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity report includes unemployment rates and other labor force estimates for seven Asian subgroups.

Here at OPM, our AAPI employee resource group (ERG) engages in a number of activities to support AAPI employees including brown bag luncheons, panels, other internal events for OPM staff, and shares vacancy announcements with its members. We have partnered with our AAPI ERG to encourage and promote participation in career development programs. And, we are looking forward to its upcoming AAPI Heritage Month event on Tuesday, May 24 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This wide-ranging panel discussion on diversity and the Federal workforce will feature some of the talented AAPI leaders in the Administration.

I encourage all Federal employees to celebrate the contributions our AAPI colleagues make every day to the Federal Government’s ability to fulfill its mission. And we should all encourage more AAPIs to join our Federal family.


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