AABANY’S LGBT Committee Hosts Asian-Black Solidarity Panel

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 john.vang@aabany.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.

KALCA: Non-Profit Career Panel, June 22

June 22, 2016 6:30-8:30 PM
Teach for America – 25 Broadway

KALCA will be hosting our Non-Profit Career Panel on Wednesday, June 22nd from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. It will be held at Teach For America (25 Broadway, New York, NY 10004). Light refreshments will be served.

Our panel will be moderated by:

Jiun Kimm, Director, Programs at Teach For America.

Panelists:

1. E Grace Park, Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid Society
2. Sarah Ha, Senior Managing Director, Teach For America
3. Michael Lee, Executive Director, Apex for Youth
4. Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation

Please RSVP to info@kalca.org

ASIAN AMERICAN FEDERATION BOARD APPOINTS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

New York City.  The Board of Directors of the Asian American Federation (AAF) is delighted to announce the appointment of Jo-Ann Yoo as Executive Director, effective September 1, 2014.  Ms. Yoo’s appointment is the culmination of a strategic review by the AAF Board.  Ms. Yoo previously served as the interim Executive Director at the AAF since January, and was the Managing Director of Community Services since October 2011.

“We are excited to have Jo-Ann take the leadership helm at the Federation,” said George Wang, AAF’s Board Chair.  “Jo-Ann brings years of grassroots advocacy, program development, and fundraising experience, which will be immensely helpful in building the next phase of the Federation,” continued Wang. 
 
“I am honored to be named as the Federation’s next Executive Director,” said Jo-Ann Yoo.  “I am committed to building upon the legacy of Cao O.  I look forward to forging stronger relationships with our member agencies, funders and other partners, and supporting their efforts to serve some of the most vulnerable residents of our City,” added Yoo. 
 
Ms. Yoo succeeds Mr. Cao K. O, the Founder and Executive Director who stepped down last year after 23 years of service.  Prior to the Federation, Ms. Yoo served as the Director of Community Building & Organizing, and the Special Assistant to the Executive Director at Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), and as the Administrative and Special Projects Director at the New York Immigration Coalition.

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The Asian American Federation (AAF) is a 501©(3) organization representing a network of community service agencies in the Northeast working in the fields of health & human services, education, economic development, civic participation, and social justice.  AAF seeks to raise the influence and well-being of the Pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness and organizational development.