A new executive action confronts the racism Trump stoked toward Asian Americans during the pandemic.
A new executive action from President Joe Biden takes direct aim at the racism former President Donald Trump stoked toward Asian Americans, marking a stark break from the discriminatory efforts of the previous administration.
As part of a broader package of memorandums advancing racial equity, Biden signed one executive action Tuesday in which he condemned xenophobic language that’s been used related to the pandemic and called on the Justice Department to collect data on hate crimes and harassment directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
This memo marks a notable step in denouncing Trump’s racist actions and the specific challenges that members of the AAPI community have faced during the pandemic, though experts hope it’s a signal of more to come.
When it comes to the pandemic response, for example, there’s more the administration could do to gather data broken out by ethnic group, in order to address disparities within the AAPI community. For instance, Filipino American nurses have made up a disproportionate number of the deaths that have resulted from Covid-19 — an issue that may be obscured by sweeping data that treats AAPI people as a monolith. (Other executive actions Biden has taken set up task forces aimed at tackling this issue, and advocates are keeping a close eye on what they achieve.)
“This is an important first step,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political science professor at UC Riverside and the head of AAPI Data. “When you’re talking about issues that range from unemployment to health outcomes to education barriers, having more nuanced data about our community is important because the averages mask extreme disparities.”