As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month has come to a close, the API Council is eager to forge ahead and devise solutions that tackle some of the real problems that marginalize many Asians and Pacific Islanders (A&PIs) living in San Francisco.
There is no shortage of work to be done. Here in San Francisco the disparities that exist for A&PIs are staggering. The number of A&PIs living in poverty, that are unemployed, that are suffering from preventable diseases, is unacceptable.
Did you know, that in a city where A&PIs comprise 35% of all residents, that 42% of all low-income residents are A&PI?
Or that few A&PIs participate in anti-poverty programs, such as CalWORKs? While 4,000 families use cash assistance, childcare, and employment services offered by CalWORKs, only 14% of Chinese families living in poverty utilize these services.
We believe a sharp and growing, collective voice can help eradicate these disparities.
The API Council, a coalition of 40 non-profit community-based organizations collectively serving over 250,000 A&PIs, is a voice that strives to ensure equity in city programs serving A&PI residents.
We advocate for equity by giving a birds-eye view of the breadth and depth of the disparities facing A&PIs. We advocate for equity by raising awareness that many A&PI residents sit squarely in what is a vast pit of inequity.
This inequity is unacceptable. It is not acceptable for A&PIs to have higher incidences of preventable diseases like diabetes, or liver cancer or tuberculosis. This simply should not happen.
We advocate for equity by ensuring these statistics and lesser-known facts regarding the plight of A&PIs, is on the radar of SF policymakers, of city government, of residents citywide.
We strive for equity by committing to educating and engaging A&PIs about the importance of civic engagement. If we are to improve the lives of those who are most vulnerable, we must all understand the power we wield to affect change.
API Council believes this effort to create a collective voice starts with educating individuals of the issues and actively encouraging A&PIs to utilize their voices of influence on each rung of the political ladder.
We believe that SF as a whole benefits if all individuals understand the responsibility we share in improving the lives of those most often overlooked. We believe we create change if we utilize this knowledge, make educated decisions, and issue opinions within the venues where our individual voices matter. We are fortunate to be a part of a vibrant and progressive city that proudly defends values such as diversity and equality.
We must all get involved. We must all use our voices. We must all strive for better.
Cally Wong is Director of the API Council
The API Council is a coalition of non-profit organizations that ensure underserved A&PI needs are addressed and represented in policies, research and data and equitable funding allocation.