AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok Interviews Randall T. Eng, the First Asian American Judge in New York State

AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok had the pleasure of interviewing Hon. Randall T. Eng (ret.) on May 7, for the Historical Society of the New York Courts’s podcast. Justice Eng was a pioneer in many respects for Asian Americans pursuing leadership roles in the legal profession. He became the first Asian American judge in New York State, one of many firsts for this trailblazer. Chris Kwok and Justice Eng discuss his life from his earliest days in Queens and China, the transition to becoming a lawyer, and the many obstacles Judge Eng faced as an Asian American in the legal profession, during a time when there was far less diversity in the profession. Today’s surge in anti-Asian hate and violence around the country renders Judge Eng’s life story more salient than ever.

To watch or listen to the recording of the interview, click here.

In the News: Board Director Chris Kwok Interviewed on The Debrief

On June 11, AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok was interviewed by Erica Byfield on News 4 The Debrief podcast for an episode titled “Anti-Asian Attacks and Relations With the Black Community.” In the episode, they talked about the ongoing hate and violence against Asian Americans across the United States and the longstanding history of society’s treatment of non-whites in America. Chris spoke about how fighting anti-Asian violence is connected to the Black Lives Matter and Me Too Movements because people are fighting for the same things—an equal, just society and an equal chance to be human. However, at the same time, people need to understand how race operates differently between Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans. Chris states, “Having these conversations in public, honestly, with people who know what they’re talking about, and who are sensitive to these topics, empathetic to people’s experiences, knowledgeable about our histories, about how they are intertwined, how they can be used against us, how we can then turn it around and use it for good. If we‘re able to sort of look at it square in the face is, I think, the way forward. There’s no other way.” In addition, Chris discussed the importance of following up with District Attorney’s Offices in New York City to ensure that hate crimes are addressed and perpetrators are held accountable. To listen to the full podcast, click here.

AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence was also recently cited in a June 15 Indonesian article on alinea.id about the naming of viruses and diseases including Covid-19. The article discusses the increase of discrimination against Asian Americans in the U.S. after the widespread labeling of Covid-19 as the “Wuhan virus” and “Chinese virus” by former U.S. President Trump.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19, March 1, March 8, March 15, March 29, May 10, and May 17 highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.

AABANY Hosts Fundraising Event on May 21 to Support Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund

On May 21, in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS) hosted an event titled “A Brief History of Anti-Asian Racism in America and Call to Action” to raise funds for Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund. Welcome to Chinatown is a grassroots initiative working to preserve New York City’s Chinatown by supporting small businesses and amplifying community voices. In 2020, they launched The Longevity Fund, a small business relief program, to support small businesses where cultural and socioeconomic barriers have prevented them from applying for assistance programs.

The first part of the fundraising event consisted of a presentation from Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, and Issues Committee Chair, on the history of anti-Asian racism in America. He provided an overview of the history of sinophobia and anti-Asian violence in the United States, highlighting the passage of laws including the Naturalization Act of 1790, the Page Act of 1875, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Chris also shared the common themes of how Asian Americans have been perceived throughout history and are still seen today as “forever foreign.”

The presentation was followed by an informal Q&A session between Moderator Tiffany Miao, and William Ng, AABANY President-Elect and LRIS Panel Member, on the importance of AAPI representation in the legal profession and how AAPI lawyers can play a role in preserving Asian cultures and communities for future generations. After listening to Chris’ presentation, William spoke about how the history of sinophobia in the U.S. was never taught in school and how it is important to push towards adding it to school curriculums. Chris added that it’s critical for individuals to understand how race works with Asian Americans—although there’s similarity with how African Americans and Jews experience race, there are still differences and nuances. As for how AAPI lawyers can support AAPI communities, William stated, “While it’s a good career opportunity to do meaningful work, this time in particular, Asian Americans have an opportunity to do more, push certain initiatives.” In addition to representing Asian American clients at work, AAPI lawyers can donate to organizations such as Welcome to Chinatown, and join AABANY’s LRIS to provide legal assistance to the Asian American community.

To join AABANY’s LRIS, please email joinlris@aabany.org for an application. To learn more about Welcome to Chinatown, please visit welcometochinatown.com and check out their Instagram account @welcome.to.chinatown

At the conclusion of the fundraiser, AABANY was able to raise $2000 for The Longevity Fund. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event, and thanks especially to all the donors for their support.

In the News: Board Director Chris Kwok Interviewed by ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence was recently mentioned in a May 6, 2021 ABC News article titled “Asian Americans take a stand as the US faces a new racial reckoning.” The article highlighted the report’s finding of the eight-fold increase in the number of anti-Asian hate incidents that were reported to the NYPD in 2020 compared to the previous year. Co-Executive Editor of the report and AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok was interviewed on the underreporting of anti-Asian hate incidents and the increase of anti-Asian hate and violence during the pandemic. Chris discussed the long-standing anti-Asian sentiments in America which date back to laws in the 19th and early 20th centuries controlling the rights of Chinese workers. He stated: “The pandemic unleashed, I think, a growing fear of China going back to [Barack] Obama’s second term…Then if you take the thread back longer in the West, in America, there’s always been a fear of Chinese in America.” Chris also mentioned how former President Donald Trump’s reference to COVID-19 as the “China virus” and “Kung Flu” fueled anti-Asian sentiment during the pandemic, providing perpetrators “the ultimate authorisation to behave to the worst impulses that you had.” 

To read the full article, click here.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19March 1March 8March 15March 29, and May 10 highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.

In the News: Executive Director Yang Chen and Board Director Chris Kwok Featured in The Spectator

AABANY Executive Director Yang Chen and Board Director Chris Kwok were recently mentioned in the April 28, 2021 edition of The Spectator, the Stuyvesant High School newspaper, in an article titled “Alumni Association Hosts Community Discussion on Anti-Asian Violence.” Both alumni of the school, Chris (’92) served as the moderator and Yang (’83) was one of the speakers in the April 15 community discussion. Other panelists included Joanne Kwong (’93), President of Pearl River Mart; Soo Kim (’93), President of the Stuyvesant High School Alumni Association; U.S. Representative Grace Meng (’93); Seung Yu, Principal of Stuyvesant High School; and current Stuyvesant juniors Christopher Liu, Xiaoshen Ma, Laura Xia, and Alice Zhu. During the discussion, panelists shared with over 200 attendees their personal experiences with race and their opinions on the recent increase of hate crimes and racism against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Yang presented the findings and solutions outlined in AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence and spoke about how AABANY is supporting the AAPI community. He stated: “One thing we’re pushing hard on is to make sure the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes task force is being fully funded. We’re very much supportive of any effort by law enforcement to bring attention to this issue and we’re trying to put as much word out as possible especially to the Mayor’s office. Mayor de Blasio denounced Asian-American violence a year ago but we’re still waiting for someone who is arrested for the crime to actually face criminal sanctions for it.”

To read the full coverage of the program on The Spectator, click here.

In the News: AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok Interviewed (Again) on the Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

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On April 26, Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, AABANY Issues Committee Chair, and Co-Executive Editor of AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence, was featured on PBS’s Metrofocus program. Host Jenna Flanagan interviewed Chris and The City reporter Christine Chung on the surge in hate crimes against Asians in the United States as well as steps to take to prevent these crimes. In the interview, Chris explained that, oftentimes, the circumstances of the incident make it very difficult to prosecute a perpetrator for a hate crime. As a result, Chris stated, hate crimes against Asians are severely underreported and that the incidents are often classified only as assault or harassment. Chris also emphasized the universality of the issue of hate crimes, while noting that perpetrators were not of a single race. Chris also explained the importance of the wider community’s role in combating hate crimes. Towards the end of the interview, Chris noted that “I think we need to get to a point where we care for each other as New Yorkers, have each others’ back. You know, get back to a sense of the city where we take care of each other a little more.” Watch the full segment here.

On May 1, Chris was quoted in FOX 5, which echoed his sentiments regarding the importance of reporting hate crimes and incidents of racially-motivated harassment. As Chris said, “[h]aving an official record of these things is useful for tracking the sentiment of anti-Asian hate and harassment.” Read the full news story here.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19, March 1, March 8, and March 15, and March 29, highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.

In the News: Chris Kwok Quoted in The City about Anti-Asian Harassment Incidents against Older Asian New Yorkers

On April 20, 2021, Board Director Chris Kwok was quoted in an article published by The City titled “Older Asians Face ‘A Whole Wave’ of Hate Hidden in Official NYPD Stats.” The article reviewed the NYPD’s statistics on harassment reports and highlighted the 11% increase of second-degree harassment incidents against Asian New Yorkers older than 65 in 2020 compared to 2019. Further, the article describes how reports of harassment are rarely investigated due to how hate crimes and harassment are classified under New York penal law and criminal procedural law. “For crimes against Asian Americans, it seems like there’s a default like we begin with ‘It’s not a hate crime’ and we’re going to have to look for things that prove it is,” stated Chris. He believes that district attorneys should elevate the charges to more serious offenses, even if they cannot be designated as hate crimes.  

The article notes that the NYPD has tried to prevent the increase of harassment incidents in New York by deploying undercover Asian police officers in the community: “In three incidents this month, undercover Asian police officers were targeted in Manhattan, according to the NYPD. All three suspects were arrested and charged with hate crimes. In the most recent incident, on Saturday, police allege a man attempted to shove the officer into subway tracks, saying: ‘That’s why you people are getting beat up. I got nothing to lose.'” Despite this, harassment cases are often dismissed by judges and anti-Asian violence incidents are still underreported.

Chris Kwok was also quoted in an April 15th World Journal article “仇恨亞裔案件列「反新冠」欄目 批評人士:警低估危機” about the underreporting of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19March 1March 8March 15March 29, and April 12 quoting Chris Kwok or mentioning AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.

In the News: Board Director Chris Kwok Quoted in the Gothamist on the NYPD’s Misclassification of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes in 2020

AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok was quoted in an April 12th article in the Gothamist titled “The NYPD’s Method of Counting Anti-Asian Attacks Underestimates Severity of Crisis, Critics Say.” The article summarizes the findings of a Gothamist/WNYC investigation on the New York Police Department’s response to the rise of incidents against Asian Americans in 2020. Back in March 2020, the NYPD classified incidents against Asian American New Yorkers as “anti-COVID” due to the victim’s disability status instead of labeling it as “anti-Asian hate crime” when there was clear racial invective present. The article states that in 2020, the NYPD recorded four anti-Asian hate crimes while they recorded 25 anti-COVID crimes during the same period. Out of the 25 anti-COVID crimes, 24 consisted of Asian victims. In the article, Chris stated: “That’s a poor choice — especially in light of what’s happened afterwards. If it was an African American [victim] and COVID-19, I don’t think people would readily say ‘Oh, it’s about the disability’… They’re kind of erasing that [Asian] part.” Chris also mentioned that had the NYPD seen the early 2020 crimes for their underlying racial animus, the NYPD could have addressed the rising attacks sooner.

Here are other recent news stories that have quoted Chris Kwok or mentioned AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence:

“Brutal Attack on Filipino Woman Sparks Outrage: ‘Everybody Is on Edge’” By Nicole Hong, Juliana Kim, Ali Watkins and Ashley Southall, March 30, 2021, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/nyregion/asian-attack-nyc.html

“Asian hate: Couple threatened by suspected Black man at Home Depot — ‘I’ll cut you, you f****ng Asian’” By Srivats Lakshman, March 30, 2021, MEAWW, https://meaww.com/hate-crime-new-york-city-home-depot-30-march-2021-couple-attacked 

“We need to recognize and fight against anti-Asian hatred” By Yeji Chung, April 5, 2021, The GW Hatchet, https://www.gwhatchet.com/2021/04/05/we-need-to-recognize-and-fight-against-anti-asian-hatred/ 

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19March 1March 8March 15, and March 29 highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.

Town Hall Featuring Selections from “Down a Dark Stairwell” on April 8, 2021 at 6 pm

Join a Town Hall on Thursday, April 8, 2021 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm featuring selections from the documentary film Down a Dark Stairwell just days before the national April 12th PBS premiere on Independent Lens.

The roundtable conversation among national community leaders will explore the themes of the film and the broader cultural and historical context of today’s tragic headlines. The roundtable will be moderated by celebrated author Jeff Chang and will feature panelists Cynthia Choi (Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action), Robeson Taj Frazier (Associate Professor of Communication, USC Annenberg), Hua Hsu (Staff Writer, The New Yorker and Associate Professor of English, Vassar College), Bo Thao-Urabe (Executive Director, Coalition of Asian American Leaders), and Down a Dark Stairwell filmmaker Ursula Liang.

The film follows the events that occurred after Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officer, shot and killed an innocent, unarmed black man named Akai Gurley in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project in 2014. It examines the aftermath of the shooting, and how it thrust two marginalized communities into the uneven criminal justice system together. AABANY Issues Committee Chair Chris Kwok appears in the film.

For more information about the Town Hall and to register for this event, click here.

AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok Continues to be Widely Cited on Anti-Asian Violence

On March 16, Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, AABANY Issues Committee Chair, and Co-Executive Editor of AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence, was featured on WGN Radio’s Legal Face-Off podcast. Hosts Tina Martini and Rich Lenkov interviewed Chris and SmithAmundsen Partner Gary Zhao on the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the United States. In the podcast, Chris explained that Asian Americans have become the scapegoat of the pandemic due to the increased stress that society has faced during COVID-19, the geo-strategic competition between Asia and America, and the discovery of the first COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, China. From the police to the public at large, Chris stated that we must hold perpetrators of anti-Asian violence accountable for both the harm and fear it engenders. Americans, especially district attorneys, must educate themselves on how Asian Americans experience race. At the end of the interview, Chris noted that “sometimes revolutionary change is hard and we need to push towards it.” To listen to the full interview segment on the podcast, click here and go to timestamp 14:16-25:42.

On March 17, The Asian American/Asian Research Institute (AAARI) at The City University of New York (CUNY) quoted Chris in its statement against anti-Asian hate. AAARI echoed Chris’s assertion that charging pandemic-related violence against Asian Americans as hate crimes “would have sent a signal that this was unacceptable and that if you were going to target Asian Americans, there would be consequences.” To read AAARI’s full statement, click here.

On March 18, MetroFocus interviewed Chris following the Atlanta spa shootings that claimed the lives of eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Chris criticized the way in which law enforcement and the media have deracialized this tragedy by framing it as a product of sexual addiction rather than the historic fetishization of Asian women. That the shootings have not been charged as hate crimes also reinforces Chris’s belief that Asians, as “honorary whites,” face the burden of proving that they have experienced discrimination. Chris hopes that the Atlanta shootings will continue to serve as a “moment of reckoning” for Asian Americans nationwide to share their experiences with race, challenge the divisive model minority myth, and build a more harmonious multiracial society. To listen to the full interview on PBS, click here.

On March 19, Medill Reports Chicago published an audio clip in which Chris described how recent acts of anti-Asian violence have led him to fear for his own safety and the safety of his family. Speaking of his wife, Chris said, “I’d like for her to go about daily life without fear of harrassment and discrimination and that she be a full citizen without having to prove herself in any way.” To read the article and listen to the full audio clip, click here.

Also on March 19, the Daily Mail invoked the AABANY report’s finding that the ongoing surge in anti-Asian attacks has not elicited a corresponding increase in prosecutions. The article quoted Chris’s assertion that “we don’t know a single prosecution, either on the criminal side or civil resolution. It’s difficult to tell people that you exist. We’ll continue to do that until that’s no longer needed.” To read the full article, click here

On March 26, Chris was interviewed by Yuntong Man from The Pulse on Radio Television Hong Kong in a segment on anti-Asian violence and racism in the United States. Chris stated that Asian Americans are not usually seen as subjects of racism and hate crimes, and because of this, there needs to be a “whole degree of education that the district attorneys in America at any level need to have.” Prosecutors and local government need to be accountable and demonstrate that it is not okay to commit acts of anti-Asian violence. To view the full interview segment, click here.

Here are some news stories that have quoted Chris Kwok from other interviews:

“Son of Atlanta Shooting Victim Calls Accused Shooter’s ‘Sex Addiction’ Claim ‘Bull****’” By Inside Edition Staff, March 19, 2021, Inside Edition, https://www.insideedition.com/son-of-atlanta-shooting-victim-calls-accused-shooters-sex-addiction-claim-bull-65606 

“Will Asian Americans ever be accepted as Americans?” By Kara Schroeder, March 19, 2021, China Daily, http://epaper.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202103/19/WS6053f0a0a31099a234354c6d.html 

“Meghan McCain retracts defense of Donald Trump calling COVID ‘the China Virus’” By Brian Niemietz, March 22, 2021, New York Daily News, https://www.nydailynews.com/snyde/ny-maghan-mccain-donald-trump-john-oliver-sorry-china-virus-20210322-nrxuq6afhbemnbigg7j2rd2dt4-story.html 

“Anti-Asian Hate Crime Crosses Racial and Ethnic Lines” By Masood Farivar, March 24, 2021, Voice of America, https://www.voanews.com/usa/anti-asian-hate-crime-crosses-racial-and-ethnic-lines 

“Lawmakers Want To Reform Hate Crime Laws. Will That Actually Ease Attacks On Asian Community?” By Anna Lucente Sterling, March 29, 2021, Spectrum News NY 1, https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/03/29/lawmakers-want-to-reform-hate-crime-laws–will-that-actually-ease-attacks-on-asian-community- 

Here are some news stories that have mentioned AABANY’s report:

“Arrested suspect in US spa killing spree ‘said he wanted to eliminate his sex addiction’” By An Wentzel, March 18, 2021, Daily Maverick, https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-03-18-arrested-suspect-in-us-spa-killing-spree-said-he-wanted-to-eliminate-his-sex-addiction/ 

“Resources to Support Asian Communities in New York City and Beyond” By ALL ARTS STAFF, March 18, 2021, ALL ARTS, https://allarts.org/2021/03/resources-to-support-asian-artists-communities-new-york-city-and-beyond/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20210322 

“A Tipping Point for Asian American Lawyers?” By Vivia Chen, March 19, 2021, Bloomberg Law, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/business-and-practice/a-tipping-point-for-asian-american-lawyers 

“Queens College President Confronts Violence Against Asian Americans” March 19, 2021, The Brian Lehrer Show, https://www.wnyc.org/story/queens-college-president-confronts-violence-against-asian-americans/ 

“急増するアジア系米国住民への差別や犯罪。在米日本人に聞く「今」” March 24, 2021, Yahoo Japan, https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/2a8e18a07b2b766f143f4559860073e9dc3e1fbd 

“Anti-Asia Marak di Amerika, Kecemburuan Ekonomi Penyebabnya?” By Bogordaily.net, March 24, 2021, Bogordaily.net, https://bogordaily.net/2021/03/anti-asia-marak-di-amerika-kecemburuan-ekonomi-penyebabnya/ 

“Second thoughts about being an Asian American” By Nikkie Salgado, March 25, 2021, MercatorNet, https://mercatornet.com/second-thoughts-about-being-an-asian-american/71082/ 

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19March 1March 8, and March 15 highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.