WASHINGTON — The White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) hosted a virtual national Women’s History Month event last week to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragic Atlanta spa shootings.
The national event brought together senior Biden Administration officials at the White House, WHIAANHPI, and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women leaders united in combating hate.
In line with Women’s History Month theme “Promoting Healing and Providing Hope,” the event provided a healing space for Asian American and Native Hawaiian-Pacific Islander women grappling with the rise in gender-based anti-Asian violence pervading the nation.
Throughout the rest of March, WHIAANHPI’s regional network of federal officials in regional offices is hosting roundtables to connect local communities with critical mental health, hate crimes reporting, bystander intervention, and legal resources.
Last week, WHIAANHPI also released its Combating Hate and Discrimination Resource Guide .
March 16 marked the one-year anniversary of the spa murders in which a gunman targeted three separate Asian-owned businesses in Georgia and killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.
Furthermore, the murders of Michelle Go and Christina Yuna Lee and death of GuiYing Ma in New York have continued to trigger AA and NHPI women and reignite the national conversation on fear and vulnerability that persists in the AA and NHPI community.
According to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, the number of reported anti-Asian hate crimes across a dozen of America’s largest cities increased 339 percent over the past year.
In particular, AA and NHPI women have been disproportionately targeted throughout the pandemic, with nearly three in four AA and NHPI women reporting that they experienced racism or discrimination over the past 12 months, according to a new survey by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
Speakers at the national event commemorated those lost in the Atlanta spa murders and discussed the ongoing violence facing the AA and NHPI community today, especially targeting AA and NHPI women.
The event featured fireside chats with AA and NHPI community leaders from across the nation who shared how their work is addressing the issue of anti-Asian violence, including against AA and NHPI women.
The event also featured performances by Hollis Wong-Wear and Aerica Shimizu Banks, who previewed the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s upcoming Bravespace project release that will feature AA and NHPI women and non-binary musicians and artists to provide meditation and healing tools.
Participants at the national event included:
Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. trade representative
Erika Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the president and AA and NHPI senior liaison
Krystal Ka‘ai, executive director, White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders
Rohini Kosoglu, domestic policy advisor to the vice president
Vanessa Chen, special assistant to the president for criminal justice and guns policy
Carrie Pugh, director of external affairs, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Amanda Nguyen, CEO and founder, Rise
Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Grace Huang, member of the President’s Advisory Commission and AA and NHPIs and policy director at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
Victoria Huynh, member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AA and NHPIs and senior vice president of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services
Hollis Wong-Wear, performer
Aerica Shimizu Banks, performer
Under Biden’s Executive Order 14031, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders is charged with driving an ambitious, whole-of-government agenda to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities.
Part of that agenda is improving safety, access to justice, and violence prevention for AA and NHPI communities, including by preventing, addressing, and better tracking acts of hate and bias.
The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders is similarly committed to addressing and ending anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, racism, and nativism.
The commission works to advise the president on policies, programs, and initiatives to prevent, report, respond to, and track anti-Asian hate crimes and hate incidents. Learn more at http://hhs.gov/whiaanhpi
To see a video of the event, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUvfPqIlmyY