NYC Commission on Human Rights Presents Day of Visibility on April 2, 2021 at 11 am

When:  Friday, April 2, 2021, 11am– 1pm

Meeting point:  10:45am to 11am in front of Holy Cross Church, 329 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036

What:  Brief remarks from partner community members and Commissioner Malalis, then do a short business walk to distribute literature about the Commission to area businesses. Literature includes posters from the “I Still Believe in NYC” campaign with artwork by CCHR Artist in Residence Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya that affirms AAPI communities (see below link). We will also be distributing literature about how to report bias incidents and discrimination to law enforcement.

We understand that this event is taking place on Good Friday, a religious holiday observed by a lot of Filipino Catholics and other religious groups. Given that the woman who was attacked was on her way to church, and that we are reaching out to a house of worship as a partner, the faith component is an essential messaging through-line.

Finally, we want to emphasize that the focus of this Day of Visibility is to foster community building and restore a sense of trust and safety for Asian New Yorkers living and working in the area. As such, we do not plan on having elected officials speak at the event.

Additional Resources from the Commission on Human Rights:

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.

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. 

Asian American Federation of New York’s “The Impact of Covid-19 on Asian American Employment in New York City”

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a record rate of job loss for Asian New Yorkers, with unemployment benefit applications increasing by more than 6000% from February to June of 2020.

At 1.3 million people, Asian Americans are over 16% of the population in New York City and are growing faster than all other demographics in the City.

In February 2020, Asian Americans in New York City had a jobless rate of 3.4% — however, Asian American unemployment soared to 25.6% by May 2020, the largest increase among all major racial groups. 

AAF’s latest report:

  • Brings you the key demographic data for decision-makers on how different ethnicities within the Asian American community such as Bengali, Chinese, Korean, and so on, were impacted by job losses
  • Identifies the specific industries that Asian American New Yorkers depend on for work
  • Reveals the industries that lost the greatest amount of jobs due to the pandemic
  • Shares recommendations for private and public leaders to help Asian Americans during the COVID-19 recovery

Get your FREE copy of The Impact of Covid-19 on Asian American Employment in New York City sent to your inbox by completing the form at https://aafcovid19resourcecenter.org/unemployment-report/?mc_cid=6ffdf5cf0b&mc_eid=ddd4d683c8.

AABANY Congratulates Libin Zhang on Getting Published in the New York Law Journal

Libin Zhang, Partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver, & Jacobson in New York

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Tax Committee Co-Chair Libin Zhang on his recent law review article about the proposed Pied-à-Terre tax impact on Real Estate in the New York Law Journal.

The article begins as follows:

It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has reduced New York City’s government revenues: sales taxes are down due to a decline in retail sales, there is less use of public transportation, and some individuals have moved out of the city. But as the late 20th century American proverb goes, in every crisis there is opportunity. A revised “pied-à-terre tax” has been introduced in both chambers of the New York State Legislature, which would create an annual property tax of up to 13.5% on certain residential properties with assessed values of $300,000 or more.

Although the latest pied-à-terre tax proposal is an improvement on prior versions, for example by no longer imposing the tax on most rental properties, some issues and questions remain.  The tax, if enacted, may affect New York City real estate.

To read the full article, click here (subscription required).

NYCCHR Presents Human Rights Central Queens Community Forum: The Impact of COVID-19, Protections, and Resources

On July 9, 2020, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) will be hosting a virtual community forum on the impact of COVID-19, protections, and resources.

The panel will feature representatives from the NYCCHR, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, NYC Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants, NYC Human Resources Administration, GetFood NYC, and Queens Legal Services.

For more information, see below.

NYCCHR Presents: Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in the Age of the Coronavirus (Mandarin)

On July 9, 2020, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) will be hosting a virtual panel in Mandarin titled “Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in the Age of the Coronavirus.”

The event is in collaboration with the Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health and the Academy of Medical & Public Health Services.

Panelists include: Flora Ferng, Human Rights Specialist at the NYCCHR; Russel Jeung, PhD, Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University; and Kwok Kei Ng, Co-Vice Chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

For more information, see below.

Department of Health Releases NY Foward Safety Plan Template in Chinese, Korean, and Bengali

On June 8, 2020, Phase 1 businesses, including agriculture, construction, manufacturing, retail, and wholesale trade, are permitted to reopen in NYC. The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has outlined the relevant sick leave laws for both employers and employees returning to work during this time. The City also offers various resources for those impacted by COVID-19: free COVID-19 testing, a COVID-19 Hotel Program for those who cannot isolate at home, free or low-cost health care, and NYC Well, a confidential 24/7 helpline.

The Department of Health has also released NY Forward Safety Plan Templates for businesses that are re-opening. The templates are available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali.

The Department of Health recommends that employers conduct daily employee health screenings; provide workers with free face coverings; maintain hand hygiene stations; regularly clean shared equipment and frequently touched surfaces; and post signs and markers to show people where to stand.

To access the templates, see below.

AABANY Member Profile: Hon. John Z. Wang Runs for New York City Civil Court

https://www.instagram.com/judgewang4civilcourt/

Hon. John Z. Wang, a proud member of AABANY, has launched his own campaign to run for New York City Civil Court in the First Municipal Court District, which covers Battery Park, Chinatown, FiDi, Greenwich Village, Soho, Tribeca, and Two Bridges. An active contributor to the Judiciary Committee of AABANY, Judge Wang has organized panels on how to become an appointed and elected judge in hopes of encouraging more Asian American and Pacific Islander lawyers to pursue this path. Now, he hopes to make his community proud by becoming the first Asian American Civil Court Judge elected to the First District.

Judge Wang immigrated to the United States at five years old and grew up in a predominantly working-class Italian American neighborhood in Brooklyn. As one of very few Asian Americans in his community, he recognized the dangers of racism and bigotry and the importance of respecting other cultures and races.

The Judge has devoted his entire career to public service. After graduating from Vassar College and Brooklyn Law School, he received a six-month fellowship to work at Legal Services, where he advocated for claimants of unemployment insurance. Subsequently, he served as a court attorney in Brooklyn Family Court and the Bronx and Manhattan Civil Courts, and clerked for Hon. Anthony Cannataro, a New York State Supreme Court Justice and the Administrative Judge of the New York City Civil Court. Last year, Judge Wang was appointed as a Brooklyn Housing Court Judge. In all his years serving in New York’s courts, he has also contributed to policy-making by helping to restructure parts of the Manhattan Civil Court.

Now, Judge Wang hopes to serve as the first Asian American Civil Court Judge elected to the First Judicial District. Judge Wang views the Civil Court as the people’s court–it serves everyday people with real, working-class issues. He is moved by the stories and individuals that these small claims and credit card disputes represent, and hopes to do his part to deliver justice to everyday people.

Judge Wang also maintains a reputation for treating individuals that come before him with dignity, compassion, and fairness. As the only sitting judge in this contested race, Judge Wang understands the weight of making difficult decisions regarding people’s livelihoods.

AABANY’s Judiciary Committee vetted Judge Wang for his appointment to Housing Court in 2017 and found him highly qualified and well-suited for the role. The Committee noted that “[t]he advocates and judges that encounter Mr. Wang in the courthouse uniformly praise his intellect, work ethic and demeanor.” After more than two years on the bench, Committee Co-Chair Will Wang (no relation) observed: “It is somewhat uncommon for a relatively recent judge to have published the number of opinions Judge Wang has published. To me, this demonstrates both Judge Wang’s work ethic and overall writing ability.”

Judge Wang believes he faces a tough but winnable campaign. The COVID-19 pandemic has created serious challenges, including uncertainty in voter turnout and participation, but he hopes that his experience working in Civil Court will inspire individuals to volunteer and vote for him.

For more information on Judge Wang’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support his candidacy, visit https://www.judgewang4civilcourt.com/ or email judgewang4civilcourt@gmail.com.

This member profile has been published for informational purposes only and does not constitute and should not be construed as a campaign endorsement.

https://www.instagram.com/judgewang4civilcourt/