Excerpts from President Obama’s speech at the 18th annual gala of Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (full video below):
“And I know it can be tempting — given the success that’s on display here tonight — for people to buy into the myth of the “model minority” and glance over the challenges that this community still faces. But we have to remember there’s still educational disparities like higher dropout rates in certain groups, lower college enrollment rates in others. There’s still economic disparities like higher rates of poverty and obstacles to employment. There are health disparities like higher rates of diabetes and cancer and Hepatitis B. Those who are new to America — many still face language barriers. Others — like Vincent Chin who we lost three decades ago — have been victims of horrible hate crimes, driven by the kinds of ignorance and prejudice that are an affront to everything America stands for
So those are real problems, and we can’t ignore them. And if we’re going to do a better job addressing them, then we first have to stop grouping everybody just in one big category. Dozens of different communities fall under the umbrella of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and we have to respect that the experiences of immigrant groups are distinct and different. And your concerns run the gamut.
So some of the things that matter to this community are things that matter to every community, like making sure that a woman earns an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work. Or ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that nobody has to hide who they love to serve the country they love. Or enacting education reform so that every child has access to good schools and higher education. Or caring for our veterans because it’s our duty to serve them as well as they have served us.
We fight for each other. If somebody is suffering through injustice or inequality, we take up their cause as if it was our own. That’s the story of America. And that’s certainly the story of this community.”