May 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: White House meets with The Asian American Foundation

Two women of Asian descent embrace during an anti-Asian hate vigil at Chinatown’s Madison Park in downtown Oakland, Calif.
Sapho Flor, 34, left, and Tiff Lin, 32, embrace during an anti-Asian hate vigil at Chinatown’s Madison Park in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

President Biden, Vice President Harris and other White House officials met this afternoon with members of the The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), a newly formed philanthropic group aimed at fighting racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Axios has learned. 

Why it matters: Violent attacks against Asians — lighting victims on fire, stabbings, stompings, assaults with hammers — have continued to rise this year even with more national attention.

Driving the news: President Biden today signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, which directs law enforcement to better identify anti-Asian racism and track specific crimes for more data collection.

In attendance at today's meeting were Deputy Assistant to the President and AAPI Senior Liaison Erika Moritsugu, White House Public Engagement Director Cedric Richmond and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice.

  • Sonal Shah, president of TAAF, and members of the group's board discussed with the White House how they plan to distribute the funds across three goals — education, data and research, and fighting back against AAPI hate.
  • TAAF Advisory Council members Lisa Ling and Daniel Dae Kim, representatives from the Anti-Defamation League, MacArthur Foundation and other TAAF partners attended virtually.

Meanwhile, TAAF also says it has now raised over $1 billion in total philanthropic contributions, representing an additional $750 million in the two weeks since its launch.

The big picture: The U.S. has a long history of anti-Asian racism dating back centuries and of leaving out Asian American history from school programs and textbooks.

  • An 1854 California Supreme Court ruling barred Asian people from testifying in court against a white person. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first major law targeting specific immigrants.
  • During a press conference Tuesday, Congresswoman Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, acknowledged the work that President Biden's administration has done, but also said she would like to "see every level of government issue an apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act."
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