Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director Email: email@example.com
WASHINGTON—Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice asserted that Yale University had violated federal civil rights law against Asian American and white applicants by using race as a determinative factor in its undergraduate admissions process. NAPABA strongly disapproves of any form of racial discrimination, including in college admissions. The organization understands the importance of diversity in education, and that race is one of the many factors in a holistic admissions process as established by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“While we continue to review information on the Department of Justice’s findings to fully evaluate the Yale University case, diversity remains a critical and compelling interest for universities to achieve,” said Bonnie Lee Wolf, president of NAPABA. “NAPABA is in support of race-conscious standards as a part of a holistic admissions process. We also support continuing efforts by colleges and universities to improve their admissions processes, including their work to recognize and address implicit bias. Our support of these principles has included filing of amicus briefs in the seminal cases of Grutter v. Bollinger and Fisher v. University of Texas in support of the universities and the importance of diversity. NAPABA will closely monitor the alleged claims against Yale University.”
Two years ago, NAPABA supported the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts’ ruling that upheld the use of race conscious admissions in Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard. In 2015, NAPABA issued an organizational statement in support of Affirmative Action and that the policy is necessary to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in education.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) congratulates Issues Committee Chair, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair and Board Director Chris Kwok on his recent law review article about the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (“SHSAT”) in the Berkeley Law Asian American Law Journal. The article, “The Inscrutable SHSAT,” can be found in Volume 27, at page 32. Click here to read the full text.
The article begins with a detailed discussion regarding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s exclusion of the Asian American community in attempting to eliminate the SHSAT and the ensuing backlash that derailed the proposed plan. The discussion then shifts toward alternative explanations for the racial composition of the specialized high schools and how the rise of Prep for Prep, Charter Schools, and School Choice have contributed to the decline of African American and Latinx students in those schools. Finally, the article concludes with an overall commentary on the current position of Asian Americans within America’s “racial matrix” and stresses the need to shift away from antiquated frameworks of social justice toward a more current and nuanced understanding of Asian Americans in politics today.
Aside from his recent publication, Chris has organized numerous panels and discussions regarding Asian American rights in the corporate sphere and beyond. AABANY applauds Chris for his insights on the shifting nature of race relations today and his commitment toward advancing the rights and interests of the Asian American community. Click here to read AABANY’s previous profile on Chris.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) welcomed NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison’s announcement on August 18 of the formation of an Asian Hate Crimes Task Force in the wake of a string of recent anti-Asian attacks and harassment. Incidents include an 89-year-old woman who was set on fire on July 17 and a woman who was the victim of anti-Asian verbal assault. Overall, there have been more than 2,300 separate racist incidents reported throughout the United States with 317 reported in New York alone.
The task force is reported to comprise 25 officers of Asian descent selected from throughout New York. The officers will be proficient in Mandarin, Cantonese, Fuzhounese, Korean, and Japanese. The task force will also rely on a team of certified translators if needed. Reports of potential hate crimes will be handled by officers of similar cultural and language background.
In conjunction with announcing the formation of the Asian Hate Crimes Task Force, The World Journal and WNBC among others have provided links to AABANY’s Anti-Asian Harassment and Violence guide and other resources to help victims report hate crimes to the prior authorities. With regard to AABANY’s efforts to combat anti-Asian violence, Executive Director Yang Chen was quoted by NBC on AABANY’s commitment “to seek justice, and to educate the broader community about eradicating racism and xenophobia in our society.”
AABANY welcomes the formation of the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force and will continue to fight against anti-Asian violence and racial prejudice in all its forms. Click here to read more regarding AABANY’s COVID-19 Anti-Asian Harassment and Violence guide in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
AABANY is excited to announce that Executive Director Yang Chen has been quoted by the Albany Law School in a newsletter sent out to admitted students.
Albany Law School wrote:
Law school offers incredible opportunities for learning and growth—both personally and professionally. And for those looking to expand their professional networks or boost their resumes, a bar association membership can be a great addition to coursework, extracurriculars, and journals.
It may sound like something you can only do after earning your J.D., but that’s not the case. Joining a bar association—an organization for legal professionals—at the student level has numerous benefits. Many organizations have specialized programming and offerings just for law students.
Want to know more? We spoke with representatives from several bar associations about some of the reasons for getting involved as a law student.
On July 31, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 11 participants in attendance. We held a “Show & Tell” where members were able to share a cool item and tell the members a story behind it. Members showed off their quarantine plants, autographed books, old family photos, a sign used in a marriage proposal, a replica plane from engineering days, before law career.
For the Mixer afterparty, members watched a comedy show featuring Asian Americans.
The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but people have stayed on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.
Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person.
We are giving away door prizes during some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the calendar entry on aabany.org to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize.
On June 30, AABANY hosted a CLE program on the New York City Climate Mobilization Act’s Impact on Real Estate, featuring prominent industry leaders. The panel outlined the changes imposed by the recently passed Climate Mobilization Act, specifically Local Law 97, and their effects on both tenants and landlords. Speakers included Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; Amol Pachnanda, Partner at Ingram Yuzek LLP and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; and Terri Gumula, President of MMDC Group, LLC.
The panel began by discussing the role of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) standards on real estate investments. Public emphasis has grown on corporate social responsibility with legislation and corporate mandates placing legal and social pressure on companies to adopt environmentally conscious practices. Investors are also increasingly looking toward ESG-oriented rating systems such as the GRESG as a holistic, financial benchmark. As such, investors have begun to adopt a variety of approaches to minimize negative environmental impact. Those that wish to adopt low-cost measures have opted for greater emphasis on existing maintenance protocols, cleaner filters, lighting upgrades, among others. High-cost measures include heating and cooling upgrades, boiler conversions, installation of variable speed control drives and solar panels. Generally, the push toward sustainable construction has also increased long-term performance as planning for less carbon emissions mitigates the potential losses incurred as a result of future legislation.
The panel then outlined the specifics of the New York City Climate Mobilization Act. Passed in April 2019, the Climate Mobilization Act was a series of bills and resolutions that included Local Law 97, which had stated a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (“GHG”) by 80% by 2050 with an interim goal of reducing GHG by 40% by 2030. The new regulations apply to buildings over 25,000 square feet and also provide incentives for green roofs, PACE financing, and wind turbines along with other environmentally friendly building practices. Adjustments to emission limits are very limited but are available on a temporary basis with applications due July 1, 2021. Rationales for adjusting emissions limits include lack of space and financial hardship. If approved, exemptions cannot exceed one to three years, and the application will need to be refiled. Buildings with one or more rent-stabilized units have alternate requirements for the time being. As of now, rent regulated buildings require 35% of their tenants to be rent-stabilized to qualify for prescriptive measures that offer alternate standards.
We thank all the panelists for their valuable time and insights. If you would like to learn more about AABANY’s Real Estate Committee, click here.
On June 23, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) presented its Small Business Navigation of COVID-19: A Briefing on Relief and Remedies panel as a part of AABANY’s wider initiative to provide support for those adversely affected by COVID-19. The event highlighted professionals working in a variety of fields and addressed concerns regarding how to safely open up and potential next steps for small businesses. The panel was moderated by Margaret Ling, Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee, and featured Amol Pachnanda, Partner at Ingram Yuzek LLP and Co-Chair of the AABANY Real Estate Committee; William Ng, Shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C.; Anthony Kammas, Partner at Skyline Risk Management, Inc.; William Hao, Counsel at Alston & Bird LLP and AABANY Treasurer; and Anthony M. Bracco, Partner at Anchin Accountants and Advisors.
Amol Pachnanda began by discussing COVID-19’s effect on the tenant-landlord relationship and best practices for tenants to avoid eviction. Tenants should be familiar with the lease agreement and seek legal counsel in any disputes with the landlord. Communication between tenants and landlords is critical as both parties possess significant incentives to avoid eviction. Tenants should be aware that the Moratorium on Evictions has been extended for an additional 60 days and any rent demands must be nullified if the tenant states that they have been impacted by COVID-19. Additionally, New York State real estate personal guarantees and “Good Guy Guarantees” have been made non-enforceable as tenants are no longer legally bound to vacate within a set timeframe if they are unable to pay their rent.
William Ng addressed how small businesses should reopen and some of the potential legal issues with phase 2 and phase 3 reopening. Business owners must go online and complete the New York Forward safety plan template and keep the plan on the premises at all times. Each business must affirm whether they have submitted a plan or have a plan in place during inspections. Small businesses are also encouraged to maintain a cleaning plan and document daily hygiene and sanitation activities to limit employer liability in the event that an employee does contract COVID-19. If an employee does contract COVID-19, small business owners are responsible for reporting the case to the relevant authorities and putting together a plan that ensures the safety of the other employees. The plan should include contact tracing measures and other appropriate protocols to limit contact and exposure.
Anthony Kammas discussed how small businesses can maintain their insurance coverage while reopening and other ways to mitigate liability. Employers should review their business policies and keep detailed records of their sanitation efforts to make sure they can retain their coverage in the event that individuals claim they contracted COVID-19 on the premises. Moreover, it is critical that employee handbooks are updated to address the challenges currently posed by COVID-19. Employers should also be mindful of the HIPAA liabilities associated with additional employee screenings. If employers contact trace, any information regarding the infected individual must remain confidential. As many policies do not cover the cost of sanitation and cleaning, Anthony Kammas recommends seeking third-party cleaning services to shift liability down away from the business owner and to the cleaning service if an incident were to occur. Small business owners should be more careful when buying new policies as carriers are becoming increasingly narrow in their wording to avoid excessive coverage.
William Hao then explained how Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be a viable option for struggling small businesses. Chapter 11 bankruptcy focuses on restructuring and reorganizing as the business undergoes a court-supervised process by which creditors and debtors come together to discharge bad debts and re-negotiate contracts and formulate a plan moving forward. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy provides a business a set of tools and leverages to incentivize creditors to come to the table and establish an agreeable plan for all parties. Businesses are entitled to an automatic stay, which stops any litigation and collection efforts that are burdening them. Businesses can also reject bad contracts during this process. Creditors are incentivized to negotiate with debtors as creditors are aware that any contracts paid out during this time would amount to a smaller fraction of the original debt. In addition, the absolute priority rule is voided, and other regulations and costs that had previously barred small businesses from filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy have been waived.
Lastly, Anthony Bracco discussed how small businesses can still apply for benefits under the Payment Protection Program (“PPP”) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”). Under the PPP, small businesses can apply for up to two and a half months’ worth of employee payroll costs with any new loans having a five-year repayment period. These loans qualify for 100% loan forgiveness if they are spent within 24 weeks and at least 60% is spent on payroll costs. The percentage of loan forgiveness is reduced if employers reduce the compensation of anyone earning $100,000 by 25% or more or reduce full-time equivalents. However, employers are not accountable for restoring full-time equivalent employment if employees are not willing to return to work or due to government shutdown. Small business owners can apply for loan forgiveness any time within the 24 week window if all of the PPP loan is spent. As for the EIDL, small business owners can obtain a loan up to $150,000 with an advance loan of $10,000. Even if the full EIDL loan is not granted, small business owners are entitled up to the $10,000 advance loan. Small business owners can apply for both the PPP and the EIDL but must deduct the $10,000 EIDL advance loan from the PPP loan. Anthony Bracco also described different options available for small business owners to cover employee costs in addition to applying for the PPP. Instead of cutting headcount by a certain percentage, small business owners can reduce employee salaries by the percentage of those that were to be terminated and the Department of Labor will cover a portion of the pay lost.
We would like to thank Margaret Ling for moderating and organizing this informative event and the panelists for their time and dedication to help those adversely affected by COVID-19. To learn more about the Real Estate Committee, click here. To view the recording from the webinar click on the image above.
On June 16, 2020, the LGBT Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted a panel discussion addressing the importance of Asian-Black solidarity. The panel featured: Jennifer Ching, Executive Director at North Star Fund and former Project Director of the Queens Legal Services (LSNYC) and Director of New York Appleseed; Jin Hee Lee, Senior Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Jason Wu, Attorney at the Legal Aid Society and Political Chair for GAPIMNY; and Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director at the Asian American Federation.
Jennifer Ching began by defining Asian-Black solidarity as acting out of an understanding that Black and Asian American history, current challenges, and futures are completely connected and interdependent. She cited the term “Asian American” as an example of this solidarity, as it was coined in the 1960s by Asian Americans who were inspired by the emerging Black Power Movement. She also acknowledged that solidarity can be deeply uncomfortable and involves the willingness to take risks and give up power. Jennifer Ching concluded by explaining the three M’s of solidarity: Mind, knowing the influence of Black Americans on the Asian American movement; Money, moving one’s money to Black communities to express solidarity; and Mobilization, taking action to change one’s practices and the practices of those around them.
Jo-Ann Yoo explained how the Asian American Federation shows solidarity towards other communities. The organization is fighting against COVID-19 based anti-Asian racism through bystander training, mental health sessions, and collaborating with other peoples of color in order to emphasize the need for solidarity with communities that have experienced similar racism. The Asian American Federation has also addressed the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on small businesses owned by people of color through active policy discussion with the Mayor’s office.
Jin Hee Lee discussed how anti-black racism within the Asian American community fueled by misguided acceptance of the model minority myth has perpetuated perceived Asian invisibility. She challenged the zero-sum mentality that pits communities of color against each other and called for Asians to rise above being exploited by conservatives seeking to combat affirmative action programs. By buying into the colorblind myth of meritocracy, Asian Americans have benefitted from the discrimination against Black and Latinx communities. However, with conversations regarding race becoming increasingly normalized, she hopes that this normalization can provide an opportunity for those within our community to “reevaluate their understanding of race and the structural support systems that uphold white supremacy.”
Jason Wu then discussed the intersectionality of Black liberation with other social movements and the necessity for allies to take a unified stance on the wider systemic issues that have marginalized different overlapping communities. By understanding that social prejudices and inequities are a product of ingrained, systemic issues, we can better understand the political and social structures that we work around and within that have perpetuated bias. In particular, with the Asian American and Black communities, the commonality between them is important in understanding the conflict felt by those of mixed Black and Asian heritage and the racialization of South Asians and Muslims in connection with immigration policy.
The panel concluded with a Q&A, most notably addressing the generational differences within the Asian American community that have fueled anti-Black racism. As Jennifer Ching states, it is necessary to build a “vocabulary of shared experiences” that acknowledges the personal trauma of older Asian Americans while shifting the conversation to the systemic racial inequities that have harmed the Asian American and other POC communities. The panel also answered questions regarding the role lawyers play in perpetuating biased power structures. While lawyers may operate within a legal system marred by racial prejudice, understanding the law is critical in recognizing and combating systemic racism. Only by recognizing injustices in the law can we rectify systemic issues embedded into our national identity and begin healthy conversations about race.
We would like to thank the panelists for taking the time to offer their thoughts and begin these difficult conversations and the AABANY LGBT Committee for organizing this event. If you wish to contribute to the fight against racial injustice, please contact John Vang at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the struggles of the Black community for racial justice, take a look at AABANY’s Juneteenth blog for a list of relevant resources.
To view a recording of the discussion click here or on the screenshot above.
On June 19, 2020, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly Zoom Membership Mixer, with 15 participants in attendance. The icebreaker question posed to the participants was: “Which historical figure, living or deceased, would you most like to meet?” Members wanted to meet Cleopatra, Yuri Kochiyama, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Robin Williams, Michelangelo, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Isaac Asimov, Harriet Tubman, and Ben Franklin.
The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars and various locations, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but feel free to stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.
Membership Committee will continue to host weekly Zoom mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person.
This week, after the main mixer, a breakout group of 4 members stayed behind to play “Cards Against Humanity.” We will feature this game in future Mixers!
We are giving away door prizes in some weeks. In order to win, you must be a member and must RSVP on the calendar entry at aabany.org to get a raffle number. Non-members can join the Zoom mixer but won’t be eligible to win a prize.
Covid-19 has sparked an increase in racism against East Asians in America, whether immigrant or native born. However, racism against all groups of Asian descent has been around for much longer, with racist stereotypes and the model minority myth. Join Queens Memory and partners for an online discussion about the current higher educational experience for Asians in America, who are facing the continuously evolving challenge of racism. Also to be discussed is how Asians in America can provide ally-ship and solidarity to other groups that are experiencing racial oppression.
Frank Wu, President-Designate, Queens College/CUNY
Joyce Moy, Executive Director, AAARI-CUNY
Vivian Louie, Director, Asian American Studies Program & Center, Hunter College/CUNY
John Chin, Professor, Urban Policy and Planning, Hunter College/CUNY
Madhulika Khandelwal, Director, Asian/American Center, Queens College/CUNY
Student Representative from the Student Council, Asian/American Center, Queens College/CUNY
Program sponsored by the Queens Memory COVID-19 Project of Queens College and Queens Public Library, Queens College Asian American Center, and Asian American / Asian Research Institute – City University of New York