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.

Chris Kwok Testifies Before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety on March 22

On March 22, Chris Kwok testified on behalf of AABANY before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety in support of two changes to the funding of Hate Crime Units of New York District Attorneys’ Offices. These recommendations call for Hate Crime Units to be staffed with full-time prosecutors and legal support personnel, and for periodic audits by the committee to ensure their use of dedicated funds for hate crime prosecution. Chris shared that AABANY first voiced these recommendations in its report on anti-Asian violence. The report specifically identified the “Jade Squad”—a police division formed to combat Chinese gang violence in the 1970s— and concomitant Asian Gang Units that were formed at the District Attorney’s Office. In line with these successful historical efforts, AABANY now advocates for the creation of dedicated and fully funded hate crime divisions in law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices.

The AABANY report recounts numerous instances of assault and harassment against Asian Americans in New York over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chris highlighted the persistence of such racially fueled attacks to this day. Chris also noted that media outlets, community leaders, and politicians have since backed AABANY’s proposals to fully fund and formally staff anti-hate-crime initiatives. Among these supporters, Chris identified the inspector of the NYPD Task Force and New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. In the face of unrelenting anti-Asian violence throughout the state, Chris explained that the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and District Attorneys’ Office Hate Crime Units require dedicated funding and full-time personnel to improve their reporting structures. Only with such resources can anti-hate-crime initiatives produce reports that adequately detail the efforts of law enforcement to stem anti-Asian violence. The statement concluded with Chris’s message that fully funded and full-time Hate Crime Units are critical to encouraging the continued reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes and to fostering greater trust within the Asian American community. To read Chris’s written statement, submitted with his testimony, click here.

Chris Kwok Testifies Before the City Council Committee on Public Safety

On March 16, Chris Kwok testified on behalf of AABANY before the City Council Committee on Public Safety in support of two changes to the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force: to fully fund the Task Force and to replace its volunteer staff with paid personnel. An AABANY Board Director and Chair of the Issues Committee, Chris shared that AABANY was the first to publicly voice these recommendations in its report on anti-Asian violence. The report recounts numerous instances of assault and harassment against Asian Americans in New York over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chris highlighted the persistence of such racially fueled attacks to this day. Chris also noted that media outlets, community leaders, and politicians have since backed AABANY’s proposals to fully fund and formally staff the Task Force. Among these supporters, Chris identified the inspector of the Task Force itself, New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, and all of the District 1 City Council candidates. District 1 covers Manhattan’s Chinatown among other neighborhoods and sites. In the face of unrelenting anti-Asian violence throughout the state, the statement concluded with Chris’s call for a fully funded and full-time task force to foster trust within the Asian American community and to encourage the continued reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes. To read Chris’s written statement, submitted with his testimony, click here. AABANY gratefully acknowledges Student Leader Taiyee Chien for his assistance in drafting the statement.

In the News: AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ Report on Anti-Asian Violence Cited in The Guardian and Madison.com

AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ report on anti-Asian violence was recently mentioned in a March 1, 2021 article on The Guardian about TurboVax, a bot created by Huge Ma to help New Yorkers across the state locate available COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Over the February 27 weekend, Huge Ma temporarily suspended TurboVax to protest the hate crimes against Asian Americans. In the article, The Guardian cited AABANY’s report on the surge of incidents of anti-Asian hate and violence. To read the full article, click here.

Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Co-Executive Editor of the report, was interviewed in a madison.com segment titled “Anti-Asian attacks on the rise” on February 23, 2021. He encouraged Asian Americans who have experienced anti-Asian discrimination or harassment to report and discuss what happened, rather than let it go unreported.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19, March 1, and March 8 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.

Spike Lee Interviews AABANY Board Director Chris Kwok

On March 3rd, 2021, AABANY Board Director, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, and Issues Committee Chair Chris Kwok was invited to visit Spike Lee at his production site in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Known for his movie Do The Right Thing (1989), Director Spike Lee is in the process of filming an eight hour documentary to capture New York’s resiliency from 9/11 to Covid-19. For the upcoming documentary, Spike Lee interviewed over 200 people and wanted to interview Chris to speak about the Asian American community in New York.

For Chris, Spike Lee has been a part of his life since high school. Do The Right Thing was Spike Lee’s magnum opus—the movie illustrated race relations between Italians, Blacks, and Asians in New York. In one iconic scene, a riot breaks out and as the Blacks move on to destroy the Korean bakery after burning down the Italian pizzeria, the owner of the bakery tells them, “You, me, same.” The Koreans and Blacks are on the same side and as an assertive African American filmmaker about racial justice, Spike Lee understood that at the time. Through his many projects, Spike Lee has recognized the Asian American community and sees Asian Americans as part of the fabric of New York. That stood out to Chris and his friends in high school. 

Spike Lee is iconic but also very personal. “He is including us and we should know more about African Americans and their culture. They have always been inclusive to us, and we should know their path in history,” said Chris. “BLM and fighting anti-Asian violence is the same fight. You don’t have to choose one over the other because it’s the manifestation of structural racism and the effort to dismantle it.” Chris’ comments reflect the message of Do The Right Thing. Asian Americans and African Americans need to be united and Spike Lee highlights that by writing “BLM + AABANY Brothers and Sista’s” in an autographed Do The Right Thing sign he presented to Chris at the interview (see image above).

Spike Lee’s new documentary “NYC Epicenters 9/11→ 2021½” is scheduled to be released later this year on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

In the News: Press Coverage on AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ Report on Anti-Asian Violence Continues

Since the release of AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ Report, A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions on February 11, there has been ongoing widespread press attention in print and on air. Chris Kwok, Co-Executive Editor of the report and AABANY Board Director, has been interviewed by various news outlets on the reports’ findings including a segment on CNN Tonight, on Spectrum News NY1, and a City & State New York Ask the Experts article along with Taiyee Chien, one of AABANY’s Student Leaders. The report was also recently cited on the March 1st broadcast of the Brian Lehrer show.

Here is the current list of news stories about recent incidents of anti-Asian violence, where they mention AABANY’s report or quote Chris Kwok:

“紐約反亞裔暴力上升 提7點建議扭轉趨勢” February 11, 2021, Sing Tao Daily, https://www.singtaousa.com/ny/436-%E7%B4%90%E7%B4%84/3270435-%E7%B4%90%E7%B4%84%E5%8F%8D%E4%BA%9E%E8%A3%94%E6%9A%B4%E5%8A%9B%E4%B8%8A%E5%8D%87++%E6%8F%907%E9%BB%9E%E5%BB%BA%E8%AD%B0%E6%89%AD%E8%BD%89%E8%B6%A8%E5%8B%A2/

“武漢肺炎|紐約巿針對亞裔仇恨罪案激增7倍 分析指受害人不願報案問題被低估” February 13, 2021, AppleDaily (HK), https://hk.appledaily.com/international/20210213/W3QTOPQJBJCSTAA623TY6OWMDE/

“美國亞裔遭攻擊事件激增 拜登總統譴責暴力並採取行動” February 15, 2021, Voice of America, https://www.voacantonese.com/a/asian-american-rights-groups-call-for-actions-to-protect-communities/5777947.html 

“「黃皮膚」帶來病毒?美國亞裔遭攻擊2800起” By 李慧蘋, February 17, 2021, TVBS News (TW), https://news.tvbs.com.tw/life/1464804 

“Anti-Asian Hate Crimes are on the Rise—and the Community is Fighting Back” By Sarah Chung, February 28, 2021, New York City Lens, https://nycitylens.com/anti-asian-hate-crimes-rise-community-fighting-back/ 

“Hate Crimes Targeting Asian Americans Spiked by 150% in Major US Cities” By Masood Farivar, March 2, 2021, Voice of America, https://www.voanews.com/usa/race-america/hate-crimes-targeting-asian-americans-spiked-150-major-us-cities 

“Comment guérir les maux du « racisme américain » ?” March 3, 2021, Radio Chine Internationale, http://french.cri.cn/commentaire/2495/20210303/628538.html 

“What can be done to stem hatred against Asian Americans?” By Kay Dervishi, March 3, 2021, City & State New York, https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/ask-experts/what-can-be-done-stem-hatred-against-asian-americans.html 

“Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Spiked in L.A. Last Year” By Gwynedd Stuart, March 3, 2021, Los Angeles Magazine, https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/anti-asian-hate-crimes-los-angeles-2020/ 

“Hate Crimes Targeting Asian-Americans Spiked by 150% in 2020” By BR Web Desk, March 4, 2021, Business Recorder, https://www.brecorder.com/news/40070193 

“Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans Are Up as Overall Crime Goes Down” By Shannan Ferry, March 5, 2021, Spectrum News NY 1, https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2021/03/05/hate-crimes-against-asian-americans-up# 

“Police Data Shows 150% Increase in Hate Attacks on Asians Across Major Cities in 2020” By Ryan General, March 5, 2021, NextShark, https://news.yahoo.com/police-data-shows-150-increase-195216687.html 

“Anti-Asian violence has surged in the US since COVID-19. But it didn’t start there” By Maura Hohman, March 6, 2021, Today, https://www.today.com/news/anti-asian-violence-history-anti-asian-racism-us-t210645 

“Anti-Asian violence has spiked since the pandemic began” CNN Tonight, https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2021/03/03/asian-hate-crime-coronavirus-covid-19-ctn-walker-pkg-hnk-vpx.cnn 

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19 and March 1 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 Report Cited on Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC FM)

The March 1st broadcast of the Brian Lehrer Show featured Arun Venugopal, a senior reporter for WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit. Together, Brian and Arun discussed the alarming rise in anti-Asian violence since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brian opened the show by citing statistics from AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ co-authored report: A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions. According to the report, there have been more than 2,500 anti-Asian hate incidents nationwide between March and September of 2020. Drawing on another finding of the AABANY report, Arun noted that targeted attacks are particularly commonplace in New York, where Asians are more at risk of physical assault, verbal harassment, and being coughed and spat on. Arun proceeded to draw awareness to a number of local hate incidents, the most recent among them being the stabbing of an Asian American man in Chinatown last Thursday. Citing the opinion of Chris Kwok, AABANY board director and co-executive editor of AABANY’s report, Arun noted that such attacks may be motivated by the stereotype that Asians are “soft targets” who will not fight back. Expanding on this notion, Arun stated that Asians must be seen as part of broader communities that will fight back.

In the remainder of the show, listeners from the Asian American community called in to voice their own experiences as victims of the “soft target” stereotype and express a similar desire for intersectional coalitions. While debates continue over how such coalitions may best be built, Arun pointed out that we all have a role to play in the here and now. By reporting bias incidents to groups like Stop AAPI Hate and the Asian American Federation, whose work is also discussed in the AABANY report, we can ensure that the issue of anti-Asian violence remains at the top of the nation’s political agenda. 

To listen to this episode of the Brian Lehrer Show in its entirety, click here.

AABANY Releases Report on Anti-Asian Hate Amid COVID-19

An eight-fold increase in reported hate crimes against Asians, racist rhetoric such as “the Chinese virus,” and insufficient media coverage of anti-Asian violence — these were among the timely issues discussed at a press conference hosted by the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) on February 11. The press conference centered around AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ co-authored report: A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions. Speakers of note included:

  • Chris Kwok, Board Director, Issues Committee Chair
  • Karen King, Vice Chair, Pro Bono & Community Service Committee; Counsel, Paul, Weiss
  • U.S. Rep., Grace Meng (D-NY)
  • Prof. Russell Jeung, Stop AAPI Hate
  • President Frank Wu, Queens College, CUNY
AABANY President Sapna Palla and Executive Director Yang Chen were joined by executive editors of the report Chris Kwok and Karen King, professors Russell Jeung and Frank Wu, and Congresswoman Grace Meng.

The report’s primary finding is that anti-Asian hate and violence surged in 2020. Between March and September of that year, the number of reported anti-Asian hate incidents related to COVID-19 exceeded 2,500. 

At the press conference, Rep. Meng kickstarted the discussion of this grim reality by situating it against a backdrop of long-standing intolerance toward the AAPI community, which motivated the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Meng condemned some of the nation’s top government officials and social institutions for fanning the flames of this deep-rooted racism. As noted in the report, the xenophobic rhetoric of elected officials, paired with misinformation spread by the media, normalizes and fuels disease-based stigma against Asians. The subsequent uptick in violence against Asian communities motivated Meng to propose and help pass House Resolution 908 in 2020 denouncing all forms of anti-Asian sentiment. While Meng described the bill as largely symbolic, it has since been incorporated into President Biden’s presidential memorandum, which includes concrete measures to disseminate COVID-19 resources in different languages and improve the collection of data on hate crimes. Meng’s fight to amplify voices within the AAPI community thus lights the path forward. “We’ve taken a positive step — an initial step — but we must continue to speak out whenever and wherever anti-Asian sentiment rises,” said Meng. 

A similar desire to spotlight the plight of AAPIs motivated Chris Kwok to serve as an executive editor for the report on anti-Asian violence. Since the onset of the pandemic, Kwok noted at the conference, there has not been a single prosecution or civil resolution for any incident of anti-Asian bias. A key purpose of the report is thus to show that Asian invisibility in the political and legal space has real-life consequences. Moving forward, Kwok hopes to inspire a constructive dialogue among Asians and other Americans alike. To that end, the report highlights seven initiatives that will help policyholders at all levels keep communities safe and hold perpetrators of violence accountable. These initiatives range from broad prescriptions, such as public education campaigns and collaboration among minority groups, to specific remedies, such as clear reporting mechanisms for victims and the more consistent prosecution of hate crimes. 

Professor Russell Jeung continued the discussion of possible solutions to anti-Asian hate incidents while echoing his concern about the divisive effects of COVID-19. Drawing from data he helped collect for Stop AAPI Hate, Jeung said that among United States cities, New York City reported the second-highest number of hate incidents in the past year. Assessing the range of anti-Asian hate incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate, the report notes a concerning number of incidents involving verbal harassment, physical assault, and being coughed and spat on. Worse still, the youth and the elderly are the most common victims of racist attacks and consequent racial trauma. Among its federal recommendations to address this issue, Stop AAPI Hate proposes to expand civil rights protections for AAPIs experiencing discrimination, end the racial profiling of Chinese researchers, and mobilize a federal interagency response to anti-Asian hate amid the pandemic. As Jeung is quick to emphasize, this fight for the civil rights of Asian Americans is a fight to expand protections for all Americans. “Please stand up, speak out, build bridges, and together we can make good on the promise of a diverse democracy,” said Jeung.

In promoting the proposals of Stop AAPI Hate and the report, for which he wrote the foreword, Queens College President Frank Wu highlighted the importance of building multi-racial coalitions. Wu identified Black, Latinx, and other underrepresented communities as allies to the AAPI community. As emphasized in the report, stronger collaboration among such minority groups is especially critical in communities like New York City, whose diversity heightens the danger that hate incidents exacerbate racial politics. “It would be a mistake of principle and pragmatism to point the finger at another group and suggest that others are guilty by association,” said Wu. Instead, we must look to universal values and American ideals as forces for national unity. As Wu writes in the foreword to the report, “To be Asian American is to be American, to express confidence enough in an experiment of self-governance to participate wholeheartedly.”

President Frank Wu, Queens College, CUNY, wrote the foreword of the report.

Rep. Meng concluded the press conference by calling on all Americans, especially those raised in the United States, to identify and combat racism when it occurs within their own circles. Meng stated that too often, stories of victims from the AAPI community are left out of mainstream media and the public consciousness. Along with implementing the aforementioned policy recommendations, therefore, Meng emphasized the need for racial solidarity. Only then can Americans progress toward the shared goal of dismantling systemic racism in this country and advancing justice for all.