President Biden has refocused his trip to Georgia on Friday so he can meet with Asian American leaders about violence against their community. He has ordered flags flown at half-staff after the shooting that killed six Atlanta-area women of Asian descent. His administration is backing a bill that allows the Justice Department to review coronavirus-related hate crimes.
And White House officials have spent two days working the phones, reaching out to leaders and advocates in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and reaffirming their commitment to fighting anti-Asian hatred.
“What I’m conveying to them is, we want you to be a part of the solution,” Cedric L. Richmond, a White House senior adviser, said in an interview. “You all have been in the community running these programs. We want your expertise, we want your input into how we get past this. But it’s also been an intensive two days of making sure that we’re listening.”
But the flurry of activity comes as the massacre at three spas that left eight people dead is raising new questions about whether Biden has enough people of Asian descent on his staff to fully understand the needs and struggles of the more than 21 million Americans with Asian ancestry.
Several AAPI leaders said Thursday that they appreciate the White House effort — including forceful statements from Biden and Vice President Harris denouncing the shootings — but that the incident underscores the importance of having Asian representation in the most senior levels of Biden’s administration.