On Monday, President Joe Biden announced his list of 21 people and organizations who will receive the National Medal of Arts or the National Humanities Medal for 2021. The recipients will be presented with the medals during a White House ceremony Tuesday, March 21.
A few AAPI creatives have made the list. Actress Mindy Kaling, designer Vera Wang and producer Joan Shigekawa will receive the National Medal of Arts. Amy Tan, an author known for novels like The Joy Luck Club, will receive the National Humanities Medal.
The White House included a brief summary of each recipient’s achievements in a press release:
Mindy Kaling: Imbued with humor and heart, Mindy Kaling’s work across television, film, and books inspires and delights—capturing and uplifting the experiences of women and girls across our Nation.
Joan Shigekawa: Throughout her career, Joan Shigekawa has championed artists, created global exchanges, and promoted the power of the arts to heal, build strong economies, and help people and Nations reach their full potential.
Vera Wang: From the runway to red carpets to retail stores, Vera Wang’s modern designs and bridal collections express individualism and elegance, making beauty and style accessible to all.
Amy Tan: By bravely exploring experiences of immigrant families, heritage, memories, and poignant struggles, Amy Tan’s writing makes sense of the present through the past and adds ground-breaking narrative to the diverse sweep of American life and literature.
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It is great that Asian Americans are being recognized. But we should stop using the term AAPI unless it really includes people of both Asian AND Pacific Islander descent. Recognizing or including Asians does not mean Pacific Islanders were automatically represented or included. And vice versa.