Jhené Aiko to Appear on “See Us Unite for Change — The Asian American Foundation in Service of the AAPI Community” Special

Jhené Aiko is ready to unite…

The 33-year-old part-Spanish American R&B singer, who is part Japanese, will perform on a television special produced by The Asian American Foundation, the newly formed organization launched to improve AAPI advocacy.

Jhené Aiko

Entitled “See Us Unite for Change — The Asian American Foundation in Service of the AAPI Community,” the special will air on May 21 on a number of channels, including MTV, BET, VH1 and Comedy Central, as well as Facebook Watch.

Other performers include Sting and Saweetie.

TAAF’s launch comes as anti-AAPI hate and violence persist at alarming rates. Actor Ken Jeong will host the special, which will include appearances by Daniel Dae Kim and Lisa Ling and “will feature testimonials from leading Asian American public figures, as well as individuals working to enact change on the ground,” organizers said.

The TV special coincides with TAAF’s See Us Unite campaign, which launched Thursday and is designed to expand support for the AAPI community. The Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation have partnered with TAAF for the campaign, and funds raised will benefit several grassroot-led efforts, including Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Aiko is one of R&B’s top stars and has achieved multi-platinum status with songs like “Sativa,” “While We’re Young” and “The Worst.”

Martinez Nominated for National Book Award

Domingo Martinez is having a royally remarkable year…

Domingo Martinez

Not only is the 40-year-old Mexican American writer a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, but the National Book Foundation has also just selected him as a finalist for this year’s National Book Awards.

The Brownsville, Texas native’s novel The Boy Kings of Texas appears on the short list of nominees in the non-fiction category. It’s up against books by Anne Applebaum, Katherine Boo, Robert A. Caro and Anthony Shadid.

The Boy Kings of Texas

Martinez’s lyrical and gritty memoir, published by Lyons Press, is an authentic coming-of-age story that centers on a family living on the Texas-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Junot Díaz, who recently received a lucrative “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, is nominated in the fiction category for his critically acclaimed collection of short stories entitled, This Is How You Lose Her.

The National Book Foundation will announce the winners of the National Book Awards on November 14 in New York.

Here’s a look at this year’s finalists:


Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead Books)
Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (McSweeney’s Books)
Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Harper)
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco)
Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (Little, Brown and Company)


Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday)
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House)
Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf)
Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press)
Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Diaz Receives Genius Grant From MacArthur Foundation

There’s no denying Junot Díaz is a literary genius, especially after picking up a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. But now he has official proof.

The 43-year-old Dominican-American novelist and creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has received a genius grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Junot Diaz

The 500,000 award, which is paid over five years, gives recipients the freedom to pursue a creative vision while receiving their funds. Winners, who work in fields ranging from medicine and science to the arts and journalism, don’t have to report how they spend the money.

“It would never have dawned on me to think such a thing was possible for me,” Díaz said, reflecting on his early years in New Jersey “struggling with poverty, struggling with English. … I came from a community that was about as hard-working as you can get and yet no one saw or recognized in any way our contributions or our genius. … I have to wonder, but for circumstances, how many other kids that I came up with are more worthy of this fellowship than me?”

But Díaz isn’t the only Latino on the list of 23 genius grant recipients this year.

Natalia Almada, a 37-year-old Mexico City-based documentary filmmaker. who explores views of Mexican history, politics, and culture, also received a grant.

In all, the MacArthur Foundation has awarded a total of 873 grants to date.

Muñoz Named White House Domestic Policy Council Director

She’s served as the director of intergovernmental affairs and the President’s point person on immigration… But now Cecilia Muñoz is expanding her role in Obama’s administration.

The 49-year-old Bolivian-American, a longtime civil rights advocate, has been named the new director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Muñoz’s new position will now place her among the president’s top aides, overseeing policy making on issues like education, health care, and immigration.

Cecilia Munoz

In adition, the new role will elevate Muñoz, already the highest ranking Hispanic in the White House, to a publicly prominent policy position during a political year in which the Latino vote will play a critical role.

As the director of intergovernmental affairs, Muñoz has been serving as a liaison between the White House and mayors, governors, tribal leaders and other officials. But it is for her role as the Obama Administration’s point person on immigration that has garnered her the most attention.

Before working in government, Muñoz served as senior vice president at the National Council of La Raza—the nation’s oldest civil rights organization—where she focused on education, health care and immigration advocacy.

The child of Bolivian immigrants to the United States, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2000 for her work on immigration and civil rights.

“Over the past three years, Cecilia has been a trusted advisor who has demonstrated sound judgment day in and day out,” President Obama said of Muñoz in a statement. “Cecilia has done an extraordinary job working on behalf of middle class families, and I’m confident she’ll bring the same unwavering dedication to her new position.”