Take the Pledge to Stamp Out Racism!: A Message from NAPABA

Greetings,

Equal justice before the law is not a political issue. It is a constitutional right—one that lawyers pledge to protect when admitted to the bar.

Today, NAPABA is asking you to take another pledge. We ask you to pledge, as a lawyer, that you will challenge the racial discrimination that exists within our justice system.

As Asian Americans, we must stand in solidarity with the Black community. Collectively, we are a powerful force and we must demand change and address deeply rooted racism in our society. We must work to create trust and fairness in our legal system by addressing systemic bias in the law to safeguard civil rights, civil liberties, and justice for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious background, or immigration status.  

Join us as we pledge to speak out against racism, advocate for change, and persevere in these efforts.

We all took an oath. Let us become a living testament to the principles we vowed to uphold.

Sincerely,
Bonnie Lee Wolf
President, NAPABA

Seal Your Pledge with a Donation to Equal Justice Initiative

Taking action today will help solidify your resolve to become an advocate for change. Your contribution enables Equal Justice Initiative to provide pro bono services and conduct research that steers policymakers toward ensuring a more just society.

Member Profile: Chris Kwok Reconstructs the Hidden Narratives of Asian America

In response to the anti-Asian violence and harassment exacerbated by COVID-19, Chris Kwok has created important spaces for the APIA community to address and heal from these discriminatory acts. As Chair of the Issues Committee of AABANY, Chris has organized numerous panels and discussions to educate individuals about the history of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia relating to public health crises, and has co-authored an op-ed for the New York Daily News on the topic.

Born in China, Chris moved to the United States in 1979, where his family was among the first wave of Asian immigrants to settle in Flushing. He had always been interested in history and was able to focus on Chinese and Asian American history as an undergraduate at Cornell. He then went on to UCLA Law School to continue his developing interest in civil rights and critical race theory. Chris served as a mediator for the New York District Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Chris also served on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and was the founding chair of the Asian American Pacific Islander Network. Currently, he is a mediator of labor and employment disputes at JAMS.

The idea that Asian Americans are carriers of disease is not new–it is deeply rooted in Western and American thought. Chris cites the bubonic plague outbreak in San Francisco in the early 1900s as an example of APIA communities being subjected to similar hatred and discrimination we see today. In order to better understand and combat the anti-Asian violence and rhetoric from COVID-19, and also to become better citizens and community members, Asian Americans must be aware of their own history in this country. Unfortunately, Asian American history is not mainstream: this education is not taught but must be self-directed. Through his programs and discussions, Chris hopes to share this under-acknowledged history and “reconstruct the narratives that are hidden in plain sight for most Asian Americans.” 

Over the past two months, Chris has organized and been featured in many events addressing anti-Asian violence and harassment. On April 3, he led a panel discussion through the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) that aimed to educate Asian American lawyers on the history of using public health concerns to justify anti-Asian sentiments. On April 20, Chris participated in a virtual town hall with Alvin Bragg, former Chief Deputy at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where he spoke to a larger audience about multi-racial coalition building to combat all types of hate crimes. Chris also spoke on a panel for the Asian American Arts Alliance on May 19, where he discussed the rise in COVID-19 hate crimes and how Asian American artists have the power to retell the lost narratives of the APIA community in American history. On May 28, Chris gave the introductory remarks for a panel responding to a virtual trial reenactment of the Vincent Chin case, where he highlighted the relevance of Vincent Chin’s murder in the current environment of anti-Asian harassment and violence. Finally, Chris served as a panelist for the Thomson Reuters Asian Affinity Network on May 28, where he spoke to a corporate audience about the need to build consciousness and address these anti-Asian sentiments in a setting where conversations about diversity and inclusion are generally more constrained.

From the responses he has received from the discussions and panels, Chris has realized that Asian Americans yearn for a space to have these conversations about their histories and identities. The political and social culture that Asian Americans live in limits their opportunities to talk through experiences with discrimination, especially within a public sphere. Chris highlighted that many Asian Americans, given the current context of George Floyd’s murder and the greater Black Lives Matter protests, do not believe they should speak out about their own experiences of anti-Asian violence and harassment. There is no question that the Black community faces longer, systemic, and deadly forms of discrimination. But this does not mean that Asian Americans must be apologetic when talking about their own experiences with racism or stop having conversations addressing their own histories and identities. Rather, the APIA community can show solidarity with the Black community and recognize the experiences of African Americans, while also fighting against and raising awareness of anti-Asian sentiments. Both of these conversations can occur at the same time, as long as Asian Americans acknowledge the context and connection of their experiences to those of the Black community.

Finally, Chris stressed that the APIA community must never stop talking about their history and the prevalence of anti-Asian violence and harassment. Everyone has a different role to play in fighting discrimination and hatred against the APIA community: some may lead important conversations and movements, while others may financially contribute to community groups. Each individual must do “one more thing than what they’re doing already,” as their efforts may inspire others to do the same. When Asian Americans have discussions about their identities and histories, they raise greater consciousness of Asian American issues and contribute to ending these acts of anti-Asian violence and hatred.

We thank Chris Kwok for facilitating much-needed conversations within AABANY and the greater APIA community. Chris will be speaking on a panel for the 2020 Federal Bar Association Eastern District of New York Diversity Forum: The Impact of COVID-19 on Minority Communities on June 23, 2020. To register for this event, see https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1386519.  For more information on the Issues Committee, see https://www.aabany.org/page/154.

MNAPABA and NAPABA Stand in Solidarity with the Black Community

The Minnesota National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) released the following statement on June 2, 2020:

“The events of the past few weeks—the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, as well as numerous incidents of explicit bigotry, bias, and brutality—are nothing less than disturbing and heartbreaking. The Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) stand in solidarity with our Black neighbors in the Twin Cities and beyond.

We demand change. When there is an imbalance of power, our position as members of the Bar and our understanding of the rule of law makes it even more critical that we stand strong against any form of injustice. We recognize the generational failures of our government and criminal justice systems in protecting the Constitutional and human rights afforded to Blacks. 

We must address deeply rooted racism in our society. We must work to create trust and fairness in our legal system by addressing systemic bias in the law to safeguard civil rights, civil liberties, and justice for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious background, or immigration status.

MNAPABA and NAPABA stand in solidarity with the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers (MABL) and the National Bar Association (NBA) as they seek justice and reform at a local and national level. We stand in unity with our affiliated Asian Pacific American bars and sister bar associations in speaking out against racism in all its forms.”

NAPABA Condemns Hate-Fueled Violence in Kentucky and Pennsylvania

The National Asian
Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) strongly and unequivocally
condemns the climate of hate, racism, and anti-Semitism that has fueled
violence against individuals and communities across the nation in the
past week. We are committed to fighting hate crimes by educating and
empowering our community to speak up and act against racially-motivated
rhetoric and conduct, and to hold those accountable who encourage it.

This
past week, a gunman attempted to enter First Baptist Church, a
predominantly African-American church, near Louisville, KY. When he
failed, he entered a local grocery store and murdered two Black people,
an incident the FBI is now investigating as a potential federal hate
crime. Just days later, on Saturday, an anti-Semitic attacker with an
assault rifle killed eleven members of the congregation at Tree of Life
Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

NAPABA
stands in solidarity with the Jewish and Black communities nationwide,
and pledges to continue working steadily to promote our core values of
acceptance, diversity, and inclusiveness. Our thoughts are with the
families of the victims of the horrendous violence in Kentucky and
Pennsylvania. All people should be able to live their lives and worship
freely without fear.

For more information, the media may contact Nisha Ramachandran, NAPABA interim communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or nramachandran@napaba.org.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).

NAPABA Stands in Solidarity with the LGBTQ Community After the Tragic Attack in Orlando

For Immediate Release
June 13, 2016

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) stands with the LGBTQ community after an unconscionable attack this weekend at an Orlando nightclub — which also serves as a community center and safe haven for the local LGBTQ population — left approximately 50 people dead and over 50 people injured.

NAPABA stands against violence and hate, and today, we stand in solidarity with Orlando and the LGBTQ community. All people should be able to live their lives without the fear of being targeted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

For more information, the media may contact Brett Schuster, NAPABA communications manager, at 202-775-9555 or bschuster@napaba.org.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of approximately 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.

NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.

To learn more about NAPABA, visit www.napaba.org, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@NAPABA).

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association | 1612 K St. NW, Suite 510 | Washington, D.C. 20006 | www.napaba.org

AABANY Stands with Victims of Orlando Shooting

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is deeply saddened by the horrific massacre that occurred on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. We are grieved and mourn with the victims, their families, the LGBT community, and the city of Orlando. We stand in solidarity in this difficult time to take real steps toward making this country a place where all Americans feel secure, safe, and able to be fully authentic to who they are no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.