Fate of White House’s Black, Hispanic, and AAPI Education and Community Outreach Initiatives In Doubt Under Trump

In a major feature story published today, NBC News reports that three major White House Initiatives — each designed to coordinate outreach to and enhance educational opportunities for communities of colour — have not had expected or scheduled meetings with anyone in the White House since President Trump took office in January.

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH), the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (WHIEEAA), and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), are all housed under the Department of Education, and each was originally formed with the mission of improving educational access and outcomes for their respective communities. WHIAAPI was formed in 1999 by President Clinton, but under President George W. Bush, WHIAAPI was directed to shift its focus towards the economy and growing Asian American small businesses. WHIAAPI was later reestablished under the Department of Education to continue its original mission by President Barack Obama.

The three Initiatives each have their own Presidential Advisory Commissions comprised of a mixture of government officials and public advisors — many of them educators — as well as full-time staff to help carry out the Initiatives’ ongoing projects and objectives. Each have been instrumental in developing community outreach programs, sponsoring summits, and providing internship opportunities for their respective communities; and, many of those efforts remain ongoing even after Trump’s inauguration in January. With regard to the Asian American & Pacific Islander communities, WHIAAPI served as a communications hub that helped coordinate efforts between the federal government and community organizers on topics as wide-ranging as health disparities, language inaccess, data disaggregation, and classroom bullying. Furthermore, WHIAAPI provided unprecedented access for the AAPI community to voice public interest concerns directly to the White House.

However, according to NBC News, none of the White House’s three Presidential Advisory Commissions addressing Black, Hispanic, or AAPI communities have met since January, and there has been no communication between the Trump administration and commission members. The three Initiatives associated with these Commissions have received no direction from the Trump White House on their mission over the four years of the president’s term in office, and indeed, it remains unclear whether the three Initiatives will even continue to exist under the Trump administration.

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US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Dismissed by Trump Administration

Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, former US Surgeon General, at his Senate confirmation hearing in 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the nation’s youngest and first Indian American Surgeon General, was asked to resign on Friday by President Donald Trump, just a little more than halfway into his four year term.

Murthy served just over two years as US Surgeon General after being appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013; however, Murthy’s Senate confirmation faced stiff resistance due in part to Murthy’s public position that the nation’s epidemic of gun violence is a public health issue. Murthy was finally confirmed in December 2014 after over a year of political bickering and delays from Senate Republicans, and he took the office of US Surgeon General on December 18, 2014.

On Friday, Murthy posted a public statement on Facebook thanking his supporters and colleagues for his two years and four months in office.

While I had hoped to do more to help our nation tackle its biggest health challenges, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have served. The role of the Surgeon General is traditionally to share wisdom with others, but it was I who learned so much by listening to your stories in town halls and living rooms. In a remote fishing village in Alaska, a church in Alabama, an American Indian reservation in Oklahoma, a school in Virginia, and in so many other places, I watched the grit and grace with which our fellow Americans live their lives.

It is unclear why Trump had Murthy removed from his office as US Surgeon General. By all accounts, Murthy was a successful US Surgeon General, with clear vision for how he had planned to use the office to advance American public health.

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BREAKING: Most of President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Just Resigned in Protest

US Circuit Court Judge Sri Srinivasan swears in new and returning commissioners of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders in May 2014. (Photo credit: NBC News / Edmund Chiang)

In a joint letter delivered to the president yesterday (and shared to NBC News Asian America), 10 out of the remaining 14 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) courageously resigned in protest of President Trump’s recent spate of laws targeting Muslims, immigrants, refugees and other people of colour. The ten commissioners join six additional commissioners who resigned their posts on January 20th when President Trump was first inaugurated.

That means that due to his hateful and intolerant policies, President Trump has in the first three weeks of his presidency just lost 80% of his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

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Dept. of Education Announces Major AAPI Disaggregation Federal Grant Initiative

(Photo Credit: WHIAAPI)
(Photo Credit: WHIAAPI)

In an understated YouTube video (after the jump) released by the White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), US Secretary of Education John King Jr announced that the federal government is putting $1 million dollars towards the fight to disaggregate AAPI data.

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Obama advisor & director of WH Initiative on #AAPI shares family history of mental illness | #MentalHealth

kiran-ahuja

The statistics on mental health in the Asian American community are staggering, if well-known to regular readers of this blog: Asian American women have the highest rate of depression and suicide among women of any raceSoutheast Asian American refugees have high rates of PTSD and twice the national suicide rate; at a rate higher than youths of any race, two thirds of Native Alaskan & Pacific Islander LGBTQ youths have attempted suicide. More Asian American college students than White students report feeling sad when surveyed, and these rates rise to nearly 80% of survey respondents when asking Southeast Asian Americans. Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death for Asian Americans, compared to 10th for other racial groups.

Asian Americans are among the least likely of patients to seek treatment for depression, and when they do are arriving with more severe symptoms suggesting they wait longer before asking for help.  In one study, only 2% of Asian Americans are willing to self-report symptoms of depression to their doctor — nearly seven times less than White patients.

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