The Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago Stands in Solidarity with George Floyd’s Family and the Larger African American Community
The Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago (AABA) is deeply saddened by George Floyd’s death. We mourn his loss, and our hearts go out to his family.
Across the nation, we hear cries of grief and frustration. As protests rise up in so many cities, we see Americans of all colors chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe.” We feel the anguish in the eyes of those holding up signs that read, “My skin is not a weapon,” and “Why are you so afraid of me?” Like many in this country, we are greatly disturbed by the circumstances of Floyd’s death. While we often use our voices to advocate for the Asian American community, the current situation calls on us to stand with the African American community, and thus, we direct our voice inwards to our Asian American community.
We at AABA take this message to heart, too, and we call on the broader Asian American community to do the same. Now is not a time to hunker down in our bunkers, let alone incite violence as the President has done. Rather, it is time to stand in solidarity with the African American community, to mourn together, and to rise together.
Over fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “America can and should be […] a moral power, a power harnessed to the service of peace and human beings, not an inhumane power unleashed against defenseless people.” These words still ring true, as violence is wielded to oppress unarmed Black Americans today. Yet, in that speech, MLK was not giving voice to Africans Americans. He was speaking on behalf of Asian victims of the Vietnam War. Despite the unpopularity of his position at the time, with many of his allies pleading that he not take away the spotlight on the fight for the lives and rights of Black Americans, he stated that his conscience left him no choice but to stand with victims of the war. A few years earlier, MLK had written the famous phrase in his letter from Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He took his own message to heart and stood up for Asians with whom he shared little other than the lived experience of pain, suffering, and oppression.
We understand that the Asian American community is hurting right now. The rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic from the highest position of this country has empowered many to treat Asian Americans as scapegoats for the fears, anxieties, and uncertainties of a worldwide health crisis. But, we must recognize that the African American community has been hit hard in the past several months as well. The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are exhibits on a long list of evidence of an unjust system of policing and the use of violence to oppress African Americans in this country. And while the rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic has recently been weaponized to oppress Asian Americans, the pandemic has actually killed African Americans at a higher rate than any other group, almost three times the rate of White Americans.
While we as Asian Americans struggle with our current reality—living in fear of harassment and violence in public spaces—we must recognize that this struggle has been a constant reality for Black Americans in this country. Due to the increased hostility toward our community, some of us might argue that this is a time to keep our heads down and to stick with our own. Some of us might propose that this is a time to work harder to show our American-ness. Yet, at AABA, we recognize that racism is wrong, and a system that perpetuates racism is broken and must be fixed. Hate takes on many forms and shades. No matter how hard we work to show that we should not be hated, it is a disease that constantly adapts to the situation to infect us. Instead of focusing on how we can change ourselves to fit in, we should center our discussion on how we fit into the work needed to make change.
We recognize that our fight to advocate for Asian Americans is inextricably linked to the great struggle against racism in this country. If we want to no longer be treated as perpetual strangers in this country, then we must work with our natural allies—the African American community, the Latinx community, and others who have been marginalized—to push for antiracist policies and to shape this country into one that welcomes people of all colors. Remember Vincent Chin. Remember Fred Korematsu. The Asian American community has a long history of fighting against racism in this country, and it is time that we are again at the forefront of that fight.
We hope that the whole Asian American community will join us in standing in solidarity with the African American community and saying: You are not alone. Your tears are our tears. Your freedom is our freedom. Your fight is our fight. Only when Black Lives Matter, can all lives matter.
AABA and its sister bar association's advocacy efforts in fighting covid-19 related anti-Asian racism and hate crimes are recognized and celebrated in this Emmy Award winning TV program.
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April 22, 2020
Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx Stands with Asian American Bar Associations in Condemning Surge of Discrimination and Hate Crimes during the COVID-19 Pandemic
CHICAGO, IL, April 22, 2020 – Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx recognizes and condemns the rise in discrimination and attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has announced that she will collaborate with local Asian American bar associations and other community organizations to investigate and prosecute all discrimination, harassment, and hate crimes in connection to the pandemic as appropriate.
On April 16, 2020, State’s Attorney Foxx met via video with the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago (AABA), Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago, Japanese American Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association, and Korean American Bar Association to discuss the surge in discrimination and hate crimes against AAPIs in connection with the Coronavirus Disease of 2019 (COVID-19). Foxx’s meeting with these bar associations was conducted as a result of their joint letter urging Foxx to publicly denounce these acts and protect the civil rights of AAPIs in Cook County. During the meeting, she condemned all racist attacks in connection with COVID-19 and directed victims of such attacks to her office.
“The circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have created great challenges, unfortunately made worse by President Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric targeted at Asian Americans,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx. “We recognize that these actions have increased danger and fear in the community and may cause hesitation to report a crime. My office will never tolerate discrimination or harassment, and we will prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law. We are working closely with community leaders to make sure victims have support and access to the resources they need. If you are the victim of a crime, please know that you are not alone. Call 911 in an emergency or the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Unit at 773-674-7200 for help.”
AABA President Gary Zhao applauds Foxx’s quick, positive response to the bar associations’ letter. He looks forward to working with her to advocate for AAPIs in Cook County. He states, “AAPIs across the country are facing an unprecedented challenge as they are treated as scapegoats for the fear, anxiety, and uncertainties of a worldwide health crisis. But here in Chicago and Cook County, we are lucky to have leaders like Kimberly Foxx who will stand with the AAPI community. Chicago is home to people of many cultures and origins, and we have come a long way towards becoming a welcoming city for all. While public officials in many parts of the country have remained silent or have even fanned the flames of xenophobia, I am heartened that our leaders are dedicated to protecting all people in our community.”
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today condemned discrimination and hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted individuals throughout Illinois without regard to race, national origin, religion or gender. As all communities continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic devastating the nation, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced an increase in instances of discrimination and hate crimes.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak spread throughout states, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have reported experiencing higher instances of harassment and bias. The Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON) recently launched a website to collect data related to discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. According to the A3PCON, Stop AAPI hate received 1,135 reports of discrimination and hate crimes throughout the nation in website’s first two weeks.
“That some individuals would use the new coronavirus pandemic to direct bigotry and hate toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is absolutely unacceptable and must stop,” Raoul said. “Racism has no place in our society, and we must stand together to condemn racist acts when we see them, particularly during this crisis.”
“The AAPI community is facing an unprecedented crisis,” said Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago President Gary Zhao. “This is a time when we need to come together and set aside our differences and biases so that we can overcome this crisis as a community. This is a time for quick action by our community’s leaders to take on racism and xenophobia directly.
The A3PCON reports that despite shelter-in-place directives in many states, the number of racist incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders remains high. Many of the incidents being reported have taken place in grocery stores, pharmacies and big-box retailers. The A3PCON has also found that Asian American and Pacific Islander women are harassed at twice the rate of men, and youths are involved in more than 6 percent of incidents.
Asian Americans in the Chicago area have reported experiencing instances of harassment they have experienced in neighborhoods, on public transportation and in airports. Last month in Naperville, a 60-year-old Chinese American man was jogging when he was attacked by two women who spit at him and told him to “go back to China.”
The Attorney General’s office has discussed the need to address COVID-19 – related discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with representatives of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, the Chinese American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, the Filipino American Lawyers Association of the Chicago, the South Asian Bar Association of Chicago, the Korean American Bar Association and the Japanese American Bar Association.
Attorney General Raoul urges Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to report hate crimes to local law enforcement for criminal prosecution. Raoul also encourages people to report discrimination or hate-motivated incidents to his office by visiting his website, emailing CivilRights@atg.state.il.us or by calling his Civil Rights Hotline at 1-877-581-3692. The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau enforces state and federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination and hate crimes in Illinois.
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Letter: More Asian-Pacific American representation needed on the bench
On behalf of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, the Chinese American, Bar Association of Greater Chicago, the South Asian Bar Association, the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago and the Korean American Bar Association, we congratulate all of the judicial candidates who were appointed associate judges in Cook County last week.
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