THE Biden-Harris administration is well underway with putting its policies into place, but celebrations of the new leadership and record voter turnout in the 2020 election haven’t stopped.
The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community virtually attended the Presidential Pearl Gala on Thursday, January 28, featuring a lineup of remarks from Vice President Kamala Harris, congressional members and AAPI administration nominees, and performances.
In her brief message, Harris — the nation’s first woman, Black and Asian American vice president — shared the often quoted lesson her mother Shyamala Gopalan, an immigrant from India, shared: “Though we may be the first, we should not be the last.”
“I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career,” Harris said, adding “Your continued faith in me has brought me to this moment. When I accepted the nomination to be your vice president, I did so fully committed to realizing the vision of a stronger, more united America that provides an opportunity for all.”
U.S. Trade Representative nominee Katherine Tai, Neera Tanden, director of the Office of Management and Budget nominee, and Vanita Gupta, U.S. associate attorney general nominee were also among the night’s speakers.
Since 2009, the gala has served as the inaugural ball for the community during Democratic administrations. Though the pandemic prevented the gala from taking place in person — attended by over 1,000 guests — individuals tuned in from across the country and distantly raised their champagne glasses.
The third edition of the gala was produced by the same team of Filipina American political and civic leaders — Francey Lim Youngberg, Gloria Caoile, and Irene Bueno — in conjunction with civic organization APIAVote.
In addition to Harris in the vice presidency, the community highlighted the record number of AAPIs in Congress and the new administration’s appointees.
A handful of Filipino Americans will be serving in various capacities across the federal government from the Office of Personnel Management to the Department of Defense, as previously reported by the Asian Journal.
“Representation matters. AAPIs have earned our seat at the table and we expect the Biden-Harris administration will reflect the full diversity of our community at the highest level,” Bueno, who worked in the Clinton administration, said.
Since taking office, Biden signed a slew of executive orders to undo the previous administration’s policies and rhetoric, from denouncing anti-AAPI hate to removing “alien” from U.S. immigration laws in favor of the term “noncitizen.”