Student Outreach Committee, Pro Bono Committee & AABANY Volunteers Promote Pro Bono Legal Clinic, Know Your Rights Resources, and AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service in Asian and Asian American Communities

On Saturday, September 4, 2021, the Student Outreach Committee and the Pro Bono and Community Service (PBCS) Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) returned to Asian and Asian American communities across New York City to promote PBCS’s newly-back in person Pro Bono Clinic and AABANY’s COVID-19 Legal Know-Your-Rights Resources as well as AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS). 

The Brooklyn Chinatown volunteers were led by May Wong, Judy Lee and Kwok Ng of the PBCS Committee, the Koreatown volunteers were led by Victor Roh and Will Lee, a key leader and organizer of last year’s event, and the Manhattan Chinatown volunteers were led by Nicholas Loh and Dianna Lam, another key leader and organizer of last year’s event.

This campaign built off the energy and momentum of the initial flyering campaign held last year over the July 4 holiday weekend, during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  This year’s campaign saw the addition of another community, Brooklyn Chinatown, and included over 40 volunteers from AABANY and law schools across the Greater New York area.

The results were impressive. Over 1,000 flyers in Chinese, Korean and English were distributed to local small businesses promoting AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, Know-Your-Rights information, and the LRIS. Our student volunteers had meaningful opportunities to interact with small business owners who have been hit hard by a staggering two years of anti-Asian hate and violence, COVID-19 business disruptions, and the devastating impact on Asian businesses as a result of xenophobia and racism. 

This event would not have been possible without the co-sponsorship of AABANY’s Student Outreach Committee, AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, AABANY’s Young Lawyers Committee, Asian Americans for Equality, APALSAs from all across the Greater New York area and Mayer Brown.

Read more about AABANY’s PBCS Committee and Pro Bono Clinic, about AABANY’s LRIS service here, HEART here, and Know Your Rights info here. Thanks to all the organizers, co-sponsors, and — especially — all the student volunteers.

NAPABA Commends President Biden’s Memorandum on Anti-AAPI Xenophobia

For Immediate Release: Date: January 27, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) commends President Biden’s Presidential Memorandum denouncing discrimination and xenophobia against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

In the memorandum, President Biden directed the Attorney General, to investigate, document and address hate incidents and harassment against AAPIs. Additionally, the President directed the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, to issue guidance, including language access, toward AAPIs in the nation’s COVID-19 response.

“Members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have been victims of increased acts of discrimination, hate and racist violence, and harassment during the COVID-19 pandemic, much of which has been underreported by the media,” said NAPABA president A.B. Cruz III. “We applaud President Biden’s efforts to unify the country by recognizing and addressing these despicable acts that have devastated our community and businesses. We strongly urge all leaders, organizations and individuals to join us and take a stand against hate.”

According to the Stop AAPI Hate project, there were over two thousand documented incidents of hate or violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the summer of 2020 related to COVID-19.

Please see NAPABA’s Hate Crimes Center for more resources on how to respond to acts of hate. Organizations are invited to join NAPABA’s Stand Against Hate campaign. NAPABA addressed and condemned racist language in an organization statement last fall.

###

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity in government and the judiciary on the local, state, and federal levels, 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.

Fall Conference 2020: Allyship and Black Lives Matter—Racism, Bias, and Xenophobia in Our Communities

On September 26, 2020, as part of AABANY’s 11th Annual Fall Conference, the AABANY Real Estate Committee and Issues Committee hosted a plenary session on the ongoing racial reckoning following the death of George Floyd and the rise in xenophobia against Asian Americans since the beginning of the pandemic. The panel included:  

  • Margaret T. Ling, Development Director and Real Estate Committee Co-Chair at AABANY and Senior Counsel at Big Apple Abstract Corp. (Moderator)
  • Letitia James, 67th Attorney General for the State of New York
  • Rahul Agarwal, Executive Assistant United States Attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey
  • Paula T. Edgar, Attorney, CEO of PGE LLC, and Partner of Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC
  • Chris Kwok, Co-Chair of the Issues Committee and Asia Practice Committee at AABANY and a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS
  • Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the New York City Commission on Human Rights

The esteemed panel discussed their experience addressing the issues of racism, bias, and xenophobia in their different capacities as government officials, bar association leaders, and diversity and inclusion specialists, especially in the context of the ongoing pandemic. As the opening speaker, Paula Edgar provided an informative presentation on systemic racism, the varying responses of Corporate America, and the importance for companies and law firms to invest in resources for diversity training as part of an urgent call to incorporate actionable plans into their missions for equity and inclusion. More importantly, allyship transcends performative activism, or surface-level activism, on social media and demands a sustained and active approach to listen to the experiences of marginalized communities, educate oneself on race-related history and issues, and speak out against any injustice. 

In highlighting the importance of using our vote at this historical moment, New York State Attorney General Letitia James suggested that the participation of more people of color in law-enforcement can be one of the ways to sustain the BLM movement and push for substantive, lasting changes. Some of the projects at the Attorney General’s Office include a lawsuit against the US Postal Service for their attempt to delay the vote-by-mail ballots and an effort to advocate for immigrants to ensure that they are counted in the 2020 US Census. Attorney General James emphasized the need to stay hopeful and utilize our vote as citizens to protect our democracy. 

Rahul Agarwal focused on the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and stressed the importance of active reporting on the part of community members to help law enforcement personnel investigate these crimes and open cases. Rahul explained that the law enforcement community takes reports on hate crimes very seriously because the perpetrators’ hatred often affects many individuals, and since the targeted population can become fearful, it is crucial for law enforcement to act quickly. 

Noting from a survey the significant increase in people’s perception and experience with racial inequality since 2016, Carmelyn Malalis described the active outreach by the New York City Commission on Human Rights to marginalized communities and its employment of staffers who speak a total of over 30 different languages at the Commission to increase community engagement. Echoing Attorney General James’ comment on the value of allyship, Commissioner Malalis added that allyship also means recognizing that the constructed narratives about marginalized groups are often inconsistent with the lived experiences of people in those communities. She emphasized the need to actively work on dismantling one’s biased preconceptions. 

Referring to the Stop AAPI Hate’s recent record of about 2,600 hate crimes and incidents against Asian Americans in the past six months, Chris Kwok suggested that the actual number is most likely a lot higher since there has been insufficient attention directed towards AAPI hate crimes and a general lack of active reporting in the AAPI community. Chris highlighted the importance for Asian Americans to support the BLM movement since we are all fighting to challenge white supremacy and ensure justice in the United States. He concludes by emphasizing the need to say “BLM”— since black lives had been defined as property for decades, we, as allies in the BLM movement, should acknowledge the hashtag’s reflection of that history and recognition of the equal rights that every person deserves.

Thank you to Margaret, Attorney General James, Commissioner Malalis, Rahul, Paula, and Chris, for this insightful panel discussion. Thanks also to the AABANY Real Estate Committee and Issues Committee for organizing this event. To view a recording of the plenary session, click here or on the image above.

Asian American Federation Hosts Community Upstander Training To Stop Anti-Asian Harassment

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, from 1 PM to 3 PM, the Asian American Federation will be hosting an Upstander Training workshop to address the ways that xenophobia and scapegoating since the COVID-19 outbreak continue to rise, most consistently against Asian communities.

Through a presentation and interactive break-out groups, participants will explore opportunities and strategies to be “upstanders” during the current moment and help disrupt this wave of anti-Asian bias through safety interventions, de-escalation tactics, and calling-in strategies.

Register for this event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-upstander-training-tickets-105204906708.

AABANY Signs onto Statement of Support for Resolutions Opposing Anti-Asian Sentiment

On April 27, 2020, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) along with the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and many other bar associations signed onto a statement of support for Congressional resolutions opposing anti-Asian sentiment related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asian American and Pacific Islander community has been the target of increasing acts of bias, racism, and xenophobia in connection with the coronavirus. AABANY firmly stands against racism and discrimination and is proud to support efforts to address the experiences our community may face with these issues.

Please visit here for the full statement.

NCAPA Community Briefing on COVID-19

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations, held a community briefing call over Zoom on the topic of increased anti-Asian rhetoric in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Community leaders on the call were joined by legislators serving on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) including Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Representative Mark Takano (CA-41), Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Senator Kamala Harris of California. 

Mr. Gregg Orton, the National Director of NCAPA, began by addressing efforts undertaken by NCAPA to address the increasing prevalence of anti-Asian rhetoric. Mr. Orton addressed NCAPA’s creation of a COVID-19 Task Force which aims to aggregate community resources online for the Asian American community in addition to building an emergency response network. NCAPA is also currently developing an online health form with crowdsourced in-language community health resources. 

Legislators serving on CAPAC spoke at-length about the alarming rise of xenophobic attacks and racist sentiment directed against members of the Asian American community. All four legislators condemned the rhetoric of top administration officials such as President Donald Trump and Secretary Mike Pompeo in labeling COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus” as the use of these terms only exacerbate concerns of discrimination. In fact, Representative Chu, the Chair of CAPAC, addressed recent high profile incidents of physical attacks directed against Asians and estimated roughly 1,000 reports of hate crimes in the last five weeks alone. 

Moreover, all four legislators pointed to the efforts that were being undertaken in Congress to stand in solidarity with the Asian American community such as Representative Grace Meng’s (NY-6) recent resolution “Condemning all forms of Anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19” which has already garnered 130 co-sponsors. Senator Harris underscored the importance of cancelling ICE raids and following in Los Angeles and New York’s footsteps in setting up hotlines for reporting on hate crimes directed against Asian Americans. Representative Lieu addressed the problem of phone scams taking advantage of the elderly during this time and pointed to the FCC’s online guidelines for preventing these scams. 

Additionally, Representatives Chu and Takano spoke extensively about the recent stimulus package that was passed and certain benefits that Asian business owners could make use of. In particular, they highlighted Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for companies with less than 500 employees in addition to direct cash assistance provisions sent to qualifying families. However, Representative Lieu noted that the recently passed stimulus package will likely not be enough and that a second bill is in the works. In that bill, Representative Chu hopes to focus on translating federal COVID-19 resources into AAPI languages and assisting both undocumented and legal immigrants who were not eligible for certain benefits in the initial stimulus package. 

Finally, community leaders in the NCAPA network also addressed efforts that they have undertaken in light of COVID-19. Ms. Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, Executive Director of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), elaborated on how AAJA has issued guidelines to major newsrooms across the country on responsible reporting regarding the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, Ms. Chiling Tong, President of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship addressed the financial risks faced by its 2 million members. She encouraged Asian American members and businesses to apply for the FCA economic injury fund online. 

Overall, multiple steps are being taken at the legislative, business, and grassroots level in order to combat xenophobia and support the Asian American community in this time of need. In order to see a full recording of the call, please click here. For additional ways you can help and get involved, please look below.


The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues. You can get in-touch with NCAPA by clicking here here.

For additional resources, please refer to NCAPA’s COVID-19 Response Toolkit, which includes sample social media graphics and posts, press coverage, and resources within and outside of our coalition. The resources include in-language resources for wellness and health, and various hate crime reporting tools. You can make a direct impact in your own respective circles and communities by regularly distributing and sharing NCAPA’s Toolkit.

In The News: Chris Kwok’s Op-Ed on Weaponized Coronavirus Language Against Asian-Americans Published in the New York Daily News

On March 26, 2020, the New York Daily News published an op-ed co-authored by Chris Kwok. The piece is entitled “Weaponized coronavirus language is endangering Asian-American lives.” (Chris, who sits on the AABANY Board and chairs the Issues Committee, co-wrote the op-ed in his capacity as a Board member of the Asian American Federation).

The article discusses how anti-Asian rhetoric and labeling the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” is endangering the lives of Asian Americans across the United States. It also provides historical examples of what happens when you link a disease to a particular group of people. It can easily lead to stigma and violence against that group. For example, in the 14th century, Jews were accused of spreading the Bubonic Plague in Europe and massacred. Similarly, in the 1980s to 1990s gay people were blamed for spreading AIDS and suffered violence as a result.

Furthermore, the article notes that this is not the first time Asian Americans have faced something like this in the United States. In the 1850s to 1890s, the Chinese were accused of being carriers of venereal disease and leprosy. As a result of the openly anti-Chinese rhetoric during that period, Chinese people were “…rounded up into thousands of railroad cars, steamers, or logging rafts, marched out of town, or killed.”

Now, history seems to be repeating itself as the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is falsely being attributed to Asian Americans. In recent weeks we have seen a spike in xenophobic incidents targeting Asian Americans throughout the nation. Such incidents include “…Asian Americans being beaten, slashed, kicked, spat at, sprayed with things, yelled at or ostracized in public.” To make matters worse, President Trump’s deliberate campaign to label the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” has put Asian Americans at an even higher risk.

To read the full article, click here.

Congresswoman Grace Meng Introduces Resolution to Denounce Anti-Asian Sentiment Caused by Coronavirus

On March 25, 2020, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that denounces the anti-Asian sentiment caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus.  

“The increased use of anti-Asian rhetoric, particularly from our nation’s leaders such as the President, and their use of terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ is not only irresponsible, reckless, and downright disgusting, it threatens the safety of the Asian American community; such language demeans, disparages, and scapegoats Asian Americans,” said Meng. “Asian Americans, like millions of others across the nation, are worried about the coronavirus; however, so many Asian Americans are also living in fear following the dramatic increase of threats and attacks against those of Asian descent. During this time of heightened anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of protecting the health and safety of every single person – no matter their race, ethnicity, or background. The House must take a strong stand against the sickening intolerance, bigotry, and violence that is leaving a terrible stain on our nation’s history, especially during this moment of an unprecedented public health crisis. I am grateful to my colleagues who introduced this resolution with me today, and for joining me in saying loud and clear: xenophobia and discrimination is absolutely unacceptable. I strongly urge all of my House of Representatives colleagues, to support this measure, and its passage.”  

The resolution has 124 cosponsors. They include: Reps. Chu, Pressley, Castro, Pascrell, Malinowski, Speier, Watson Coleman, Brown, Takano, Cisneros, Schakowsky, Velázquez, Pingree, Lieu, Napolitano, Correa, Haaland, Huffman, Torres, Blumenauer, Fudge, Cárdenas, Omar, Schrader, Moulton, Suozzi, Lynch, Dingell, Connolly, Case, A. Green, Bonamici, Trone, C. Maloney, Khanna, McGovern, Thompson (CA), Larson, Foster, E. Johnson, Jayapal, Kilmer, Jackson Lee, Lofgren, Porter, Raskin, Lowenthal, DelBene, Castor, Jeffries, Trahan, Smith (WA), Rose, Beyer, Rouda, Costa, Serrano, DeFazio, Krishnamoorthi, Ocasio-Cortez, Cicilline, Kim, Sanchez, Soto, Bustos, McCollum, Pocan, Welch, Sablan, Schiff, Larsen, Higgins, Yarmuth, McEachin, DeLauro, Quigley, Clark, Grijalva, DeGette, Engel, Butterfield, Rush, Deutch, Allred, Eshoo, S. Maloney, Kennedy, D. Davis, Bass, Boyle, Nadler, Lee (CA), Norton, Lewis, Mucarsel-Powell, Bishop, Evans, “Chuy” García, Schneider, Horsford, Carson, Wild, Tlaib, Casten, Craig, Frankel, Meeks, Brownley, Spanberger, Wexton, Vargas, S. Garcia, Hastings, Escobar, Cohen, Vargas, Sherman, Waters, McNerney, Cox, McNerney, Lawrence, Tlaib, and Gallego.  

To learn more and to read the text of the resolution, click here.

AG James Launches Hotline to Combat Coronavirus Hate Crimes and Xenophobic Rhetoric

Individuals Who Have Experienced Hate Crimes and Bias-Based Incidents Are Encouraged to Call the Ongoing Hotline at 1-800-771-7755, or Email Civil.Rights@ag.ny.gov 

NEW YORK – Attorney General Letitia James [on March 23, 2020] announced the launch of a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents. The hotline, which will continue indefinitely, comes in the wake of rising reports of harassment and assaults, as well as rhetoric against Asian Americans amidst the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“As we face an unprecedented and uncertain time for New York, the United States, and the world, we must reiterate the fact that this pandemic does not give anyone an excuse to be racist, xenophobic, or biased,” said Attorney General James. “No one should live in fear for their life because of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. I encourage all victims of discriminatory actions stemming from this pandemic to contact my office. We will continue to work with local law enforcement to combat hate in all its insidious forms.”

In the last week alone, there have been numerous reports in New York of Asian Americans being harassed or physically assaulted as a result of this pandemic. The last several weeks have also seen a rise in anti-Asian rhetoric through the use of terms such as ‘Chinese virus,’ creating a stigma around Asian communities. This comes on the heels of a record number of hate crimes over the past several months in New York, demonstrating the urgent need for action. The Attorney General’s Office, in its commitment to combating these heinous acts, implores everyone, from everyday New Yorkers, to individuals at the highest levels of government, to stand united against hate, now more than ever.

“During this public health crisis, people are fighting for their lives – fighting to keep their families safe. Yet these incessant, irresponsible, and atrocious naming of COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’ or ‘Wuhan virus’ is endangering the lives of Asian Americans. I thank Attorney General James for setting up this necessary hotline for New Yorkers to report coronavirus-related hate crimes or biased-based incidents,” said U.S. Representative Grace Meng. “I have repeatedly called on public officials – from the President to the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives – to abstain from using derogatory language that demonizes Asian Americans. This must stop. Public officials – and the media – must speak truth to power and refrain from dabbling in misinformation or conspiracy theories. I’m urging all New Yorkers to come together, call virus the coronavirus, and report to the hotline those who would use this uncertain time to make racist, xenophobic or biased attacks.”

“Long scapegoated and cast as ‘yellow peril,’ Asian Americans are besieged on two fronts by the COVID-19 contagion, with outbreaks of ignorance and bigotry sometimes inflicting more harm than the virus itself,” said State Senator John Liu. “More and more hateful incidents are occurring, ranging from distasteful gestures to obnoxious name-calling to outright violence against Asian-Americans — and despicably condoned by the president himself. The battle against the coronavirus has actually brought out the best among New Yorkers but it is necessary to remind some not to let fear of the unknown devolve into irrational and inexcusable hate, and we thank beloved Attorney General Tish James for leading the charge on this front as well.”

“Currently our community is dealing with COVID-19, a global pandemic — but our community is also facing another virus: extreme anti-Asian xenophobia,” said State Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou. “While we battle this crisis, it has become abundantly clear that the coronavirus does not discriminate based on race. Yet, people are using COVID-19 as an excuse to perpetuate racism and xenophobia throughout New York and the entire country. There have been so many reports of Asian Americans being attacked because they were just riding the subway or wearing a face mask. The attacks are hateful, and go out of their way to blame our community. It is important that we stand together and remain educated on the growing emergency. Together we must stop the spread of the unfounded harmful stereotypes and hateful words that people are using to demonize our Asian American community through thoughtful and reasonable discussions. Thank you to the Attorney General for setting up a hotline to address and to better support our community through this devastating time of unfounded xenophobia and hate crimes against our community.”

Although local law enforcement is responsible for criminally prosecuting these perpetrators, the Attorney General’s Office is taking on this issue in other ways, including connecting victims and impacted communities to available resources, launching civil investigations, and supporting local law enforcement, among other steps.

The Attorney General urges those experiencing hate crimes and bias incidences to report them by emailing the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau at civil.rights@ag.ny.gov, or calling 1-800-771-7755. 

NAPABA Denounces Use of Racist Language to Describe Coronavirus

Please read below a statement released by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association on March 18, 2020:

Using the terms ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Wuhan virus’ to describe the coronavirus and COVID-19 is inaccurate and unacceptable. This disease does not discriminate. We cannot allow racism to rise as we come together to take on this challenge. NAPABA calls on the President and other leaders to stop using this harmful and xenophobic language.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized using such terms creates harmful stigma against ethnic and minority groups, further endangering public health. Discriminatory language distracts from the problem before us, and only perpetuates unfounded misinformation.

The stereotypes associated with this language have led to a rise in anti-Asian bias and racist attacks related to the coronavirus. NAPABA 
spoke out against this bias and joined a coalition of over 260 organizations, including our member bar associations, calling for leaders to focus on unity and denouncing anti-Asian attacks, xenophobia, and racist language. 

We ask you to do your part to combat racism and promote unity in response to this challenge. Know the facts and encourages others to do the same by referring to the 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.