Fall Conference 2020: Allyship and Black Lives Matter—Racism, Bias, and Xenophobia in Our Communities

On September 26, 2020, as part of AABANY’s 11th Annual Fall Conference, the AABANY Real Estate Committee and Issues Committee hosted a plenary session on the ongoing racial reckoning following the death of George Floyd and the rise in xenophobia against Asian Americans since the beginning of the pandemic. The panel included:  

  • Margaret T. Ling, Development Director and Real Estate Committee Co-Chair at AABANY and Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. (Moderator)
  • Letitia James, 67th Attorney General for the State of New York
  • Rahul Agarwal, Executive Assistant United States Attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey
  • Paula T. Edgar, Attorney, CEO of PGE LLC, and Partner of Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC
  • Chris Kwok, Co-Chair of the Issues Committee and Asia Practice Committee at AABANY and a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS
  • Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights

The esteemed panel discussed their experience addressing the issues of racism, bias, and xenophobia in their different capacities as government officials, bar association leaders, and diversity and inclusion specialists, especially in the context of the ongoing pandemic. As the opening speaker, Paula Edgar provided an informative presentation on systemic racism, the varying responses of Corporate America, and the importance for companies and law firms to invest in resources for diversity training as part of an urgent call to incorporate actionable plans into their missions for equity and inclusion. More importantly, allyship transcends performative activism, or surface-level activism, on social media and demands a sustained and active approach to listen to the experiences of marginalized communities, educate oneself on race-related history and issues, and speak out against any injustice. 

In highlighting the importance of using our vote at this historical moment, New York State Attorney General Letitia James suggested that the participation of more people of color in law-enforcement can be one of the ways to sustain the BLM movement and push for substantive, lasting changes. Some of the projects at the Attorney General’s Office include a lawsuit against the US Postal Service for their attempt to delay the vote-by-mail ballots and an effort to advocate for immigrants to ensure that they are counted in the 2020 US Census. Attorney General James emphasized the need to stay hopeful and utilize our vote as citizens to protect our democracy. 

Rahul Agarwal focused on the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and stressed the importance of active reporting on the part of community members to help law enforcement personnel investigate these crimes and open cases. Rahul explained that the law enforcement community takes reports on hate crimes very seriously because the perpetrators’ hatred often affects many individuals, and since the targeted population can become fearful, it is crucial for law enforcement to act quickly. 

Noting from a survey the significant increase in people’s perception and experience with racial inequality since 2016, Carmelyn Malalis described the active outreach by the New York City Commission on Human Rights to marginalized communities and its employment of staffers who speak a total of over 30 different languages at the Commission to increase community engagement. Echoing Attorney General James’ comment on the value of allyship, Commissioner Malalis added that allyship also means recognizing that the constructed narratives about marginalized groups are often inconsistent with the lived experiences of people in those communities. She emphasized the need to actively work on dismantling one’s biased preconceptions. 

Referring to the Stop AAPI Hate’s recent record of about 2,600 hate crimes and incidents against Asian Americans in the past six months, Chris Kwok suggested that the actual number is most likely a lot higher since there has been insufficient attention directed towards AAPI hate crimes and a general lack of active reporting in the AAPI community. Chris highlighted the importance for Asian Americans to support the BLM movement since we are all fighting to challenge white supremacy and ensure justice in the United States. He concludes by emphasizing the need to say “BLM”— since black lives had been defined as property for decades, we, as allies in the BLM movement, should acknowledge the hashtag’s reflection of that history and recognition of the equal rights that every person deserves.

Thank you to Margaret, Attorney General James, Commissioner Malalis, Rahul, Paula, and Chris, for this insightful panel discussion. Thanks also to the AABANY Real Estate Committee and Issues Committee for organizing this event. To view a recording of the plenary session, click here or on the image above.

MNAPABA and NAPABA Stand in Solidarity with the Black Community

The Minnesota National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) released the following statement on June 2, 2020:

“The events of the past few weeks—the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as numerous incidents of explicit bigotry, bias, and brutality—are nothing less than disturbing and heartbreaking. The Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) stand in solidarity with our Black neighbors in the Twin Cities and beyond.

We demand change. When there is an imbalance of power, our position as members of the Bar and our understanding of the rule of law makes it even more critical that we stand strong against any form of injustice. We recognize the generational failures of our government and criminal justice systems in protecting the Constitutional and human rights afforded to Blacks. 

We must address deeply rooted racism in our society. We must work to create trust and fairness in our legal system by addressing systemic bias in the law to safeguard civil rights, civil liberties, and justice for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious background, or immigration status.

MNAPABA and NAPABA stand in solidarity with the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) and the National Bar Association (NBA) as they seek justice and reform at a local and national level. We stand in unity with our affiliated Asian Pacific American bars and sister bar associations in speaking out against racism in all its forms.”

Asian American Federation Hosts Community Upstander Training To Stop Anti-Asian Harassment

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, from 1 PM to 3 PM, the Asian American Federation will be hosting an Upstander Training workshop to address the ways that xenophobia and scapegoating since the COVID-19 outbreak continue to rise, most consistently against Asian communities.

Through a presentation and interactive break-out groups, participants will explore opportunities and strategies to be “upstanders” during the current moment and help disrupt this wave of anti-Asian bias through safety interventions, de-escalation tactics, and calling-in strategies.

Register for this event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-upstander-training-tickets-105204906708.

AABANY Signs onto Statement of Support for Resolutions Opposing Anti-Asian Sentiment

On April 27, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) along with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and many other bar associations signed onto a statement of support for Congressional resolutions opposing anti-Asian sentiment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community has been the target of increasing acts of bias, racism, and xenophobia in connection with the coronavirus. AABANY firmly stands against racism and discrimination and is proud to support efforts to address the experiences our community may face with these issues.

Please visit here for the full statement.

NY Daily News Publishes Op-Ed on Startling Rise in Anti-Asian Bias Incidents and Hate Crime Reports

On April 8, 2020, the New York Daily News published an op-ed entitled “Bias, group hate and the coronavirus pandemic,” authored by Deborah Lauter, Executive Director of the New York City Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

The op-ed highlights the startling increase of bias incidents and hate crimes related to COVID-19 being reported by Asians and Asian Americans across the country in recent weeks. It notes that during times of crisis, societies are susceptible to fear. In the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, that fear has manifested itself in the form of mistrust, hatred, and division on a national level. The authors point to several examples of similar societal reactions in history during times of national and international crises. They encouraged readers to learn from history’s mistakes and stressed the need to support the Chinese and other Asian communities that are being scapegoated and increasingly living in fear of being targeted in the current environment.

To read the full op-ed, click on the following link: https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-bias-group-hate-coronavirus-20200409-hocvcsn7orarvhruqoxxkay2my-story.html

From KALCA: Are We Prejudiced?

Are we prejudiced?
Many of you probably will immediately answer, “No,” as I have. It is often difficult to fathom that we have biases and prejudices because we have fought so hard all our lives against them. But sometimes, the effects are so subtle, that they go unnoticed. Sam Yoon compares this to a medical condition he suffers from, which creates a blind spot in his eyes. The only way to tell whether the blind spot exists is for him to take a special exam.
 
 Thankfully, social psychologist Anthony Greenwald developed the Implicit Association Test to explore the group-based preferences and stereotypes that may not be accessible to our conscious awareness. And it doesn’t require a visit to the doctor’s office. You can complete the test in front of your computer in less than 10 minutes.

 We invite you to test your own thoughts and feelings that exist outside of your conscious awareness or conscious control. Are you suffering from a blind spot? Sam and I were surprised with our own results. After taking the test, please share your thoughts at KALCA’s facebook page. In order to share your experience, we advise that you at least complete the “Asian-IAT” test. Discuss the results. We look forward to hearing from you.
 

Sincerely,

Jeong Min Bae
Executive Director

bird_blue_48 copy   facebook
 

Join us to learn more about implicit bias.
 
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2
8:30am – 11:30am
 
New York Korean Center
149 West 24th St 6th Fl

REGISTER NOW
 

Lecture by:

Professor Jerry Kang
Jerry Kang
 

Facilitated by:

Nayantara SenNayantara Sen