Letter from AABANY President Dwight Yoo

Earlier this month in a podcast, Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin shared the many stereotypes he had to overcome and racial slurs he heard while playing basketball, particularly during college.  

In the podcast Outside Shot with Randy Foye, Lin detailed how he was called “ch–k” openly by players and “that Oriental” by an opposing coach, heckled by a fan screaming Chinese food names at him, and taunted by crowds about his eyes.  

The reaction?  Largely indifference.  Referees looked the other way, and we can infer security and the schools themselves didn’t respond meaningfully, if at all.

In speaking with other Asian Pacific Americans, I am struck by how familiar the experience Lin describes is to many in their own life experiences.  To many, having preconceived notions imposed on them and being the recipient of racially tinged offensive remarks are commonplace, including at the workplace (even if the remarks may be without malice), and the indifferent response is unsurprising.

But the reaction needs to change.  One of the principal missions of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) this year is to bring greater attention to these matters.

Whether it is being loud when a television personality like Steve Harvey makes offensive jokes about Asians or Fox News airs a “Watters’ World” segment mocking New York City’s Chinatown residents with the correspondent self-proclaiming it was “all in good fun.”

Or highlighting APA talents deserving of promotion while bringing attention to the disproportionate underrepresentation of APAs in the senior ranks of in-house law departments, law firms, the judiciary, public service, and political office.

Or focusing attention on news stories affecting the APA community, such as the shootings of two Indian engineers in Kansas earlier this year by a gunman who allegedly yelled “Get out of my country” before firing, and the subsequent increase of other violent acts against South Asians.

In 2012, at the height of “Linsanity,” ESPN ran an unconscionably derogatory headline “Chink in the Armor” tied to a story about the end of the Knicks’ winning streak which had been fueled by Lin’s play.  

We at AABANY hope to speak out, educate and advocate so that people think twice, with the goal that such headlines become a thing of the past.


Dwight S. Yoo

This article originally appeared in the 2017 Spring Edition of The AABANY Advocate. You can find that issue here.

Letter from AABANY President Will Wang

Dear AABANY Members:

I hope you all have been enjoying your summer as well as enjoying AABANY’s 2015-16 year-to-date.  AABANY has been very busy charting new frontiers and I know many of you have been along for the ride.  Our spring and summer have been jam-packed months full of events, networking opportunities, and continuing legal education.

AABANY has sponsored or co-sponsored numerous events throughout the year thus far and I will attempt to highlight some of our most prominent achievements.  

In April, AABANY co-sponsored, with the Korean American League for Civil Action (“KALCA”), a forum on the Specialized High School Admissions Test to discuss and weigh-in on efforts to change the way admissions to specialized New York City high schools are administered.  AABANY also organized weekend cultural tours of the New-York Historical Society exhibit called “Chinese-American: Exclusion-Inclusion.”

The month of May, which is APA Heritage Month, was certainly an exciting and historic month.  Our Women’s Committee held its New York premiere of “Kicking Glass From the Courtroom to the Boardroom: Two Decades and Counting,” a video project followed by a panel discussion covering the hurdles women have faced in the legal profession, the successes they have achieved, and what success means to them.  

Kathy Chin and Judge Denny Chin continued their extremely successful trial re-enactments series with “Justice Denied: Ward’s Cove Packing Co., Inc. v. Atonio,” which was performed at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.

Also in May, New York City welcomed two new judges to the bench who made history with their appointments.  Judge Raja Rajeswari became the first India-born woman to be appointed to the bench in New York City.  Judge Kathryn Paek  became the first Korean-American woman judge on the bench in New York State.  Both women were appointed to the New York City Criminal Court by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In June, AABANY hosted its annual In-House Counsel & Corporate Law Wine Tasting & Networking Reception at STK Downtown. Our Prosecutors’ Committee hosted its 7th Annual Reception, at Brooklyn Law School, honoring Joon Kim, Deputy United Sates Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the family of the late Detective Wenjian Liu.

We also welcomed two new Board members to our AABANY family: Diane Gujarati (Deputy Chief, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York) and Emily Kim (Chief Policy and Legal Officer, Success Academy Charter Schools).  

Finally, our Past President and current Board member, Jean Lee, was honored with the Trailblazer Award at KALAGNY’s 29th Anniversary Gala.  Our In-House Counsel Committee Co-chair Austin So was honored with the Corporate Leadership Award at APALA-NJ’s 18th Anniversary Gala.  

Of course, the biggest legal news of June was the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision on marriage equality.  It was a watershed moment that AABANY was proud to bask in along with the community at-large.

Our annual Fall Conference will take place on September 19th, hosted by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.  The website for the conference is up (conference2015.aabany.org) and I encourage you to mark your calendars, register, and attend.  

Finally, the NAPABA National Convention is in New Orleans this November 5-8, 2015.   Join us in N’awlins and Po’Boys are on me.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2015, Volume XVI, Issue III of The AABANY Advocate, which can be read in its entirety here. To see all past versions of The AABANY Advocate, click here. To learn more about AABANY’s newsletter, you can email [email protected].

Will Wang is AABANY’s President 2015-2016. To read his bio, you can click here. You can reach him at [email protected].

Helping Every Vote Get Cast

Helping Every Vote Get Cast