Among those disillusioned is Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, the president and chief executive of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (AIPACS), who called the lack of Asian-American appointments “insulting and frustrating”.
“I give Biden ample credit [for] expanding diversity,” she said. “At the same time, the exclusion of an Asian-American in the core 15 executive departments is something that proves to be a disappointment and a missed opportunity.”
To highlight the benefits of having an AAPI cabinet secretary, Mielke cited the example set by Mineta, a long-time Democratic congressman.
Mineta, the California-born child of Japanese immigrants, repeatedly spoke of his family’s experience during World War II, when they were interned by the government for several years at a camp in Wyoming.
“This is something that’s happened to this community. You do not want to have this happen to another community,” Mielke said. “This is part of a lived experience that goes with being someone from a diverse background. [Secretaries] are also thinking about who they are as an individual and what they bring to that experience.”
Mielke said that despite her disappointment, she believes her group and other AAPI organizations must join with the Biden administration to address the wider issues the AAPI community faced during the Trump years.
“We look forward to working with this administration to reverse the executive orders that occurred in the previous administration and bring us back to a place where we aren’t seeing xenophobia and racism against the community,” she said. “We want to be able to move forward together as a constituency to improve lives.”
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