CAA honors Cecillia Wang for Continuing the Legacy of Resistance

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Chinese for Affirmative Action will honor Cecillia Wang at its 2017 Celebration of Justice on June 8, 2017, at The Event Center at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.

CAA selected Cecillia as an honoree in recognition of her leadership in the fight against anti-immigrant laws, racial profiling, and other unlawful police practices relating to immigration enforcement across the country.

For more than 20 years, Cecillia has been at the center of landmark court cases, protecting the rights of the indigent, victims of torture, and undocumented immigrants. Most recently, Cecillia led a team to win a class action lawsuit on behalf of Latino immigrants impacted by the policy and practice of racial profiling and illegal detentions in Maricopa County in Arizona.

Her commitment and passion for justice is driven by her own family immigration story and the stories of so many Asian Americans who have stood up against unjust laws like the Chinese Exclusion Act. CAA is proud to honor Cecillia for continuing a long legacy of resistance.

Cecillia is a former board member of CAA and an AACRE trustee. She is currently the deputy legal director at the national ACLU and directs the Center for Democracy which encompasses the ACLU’s work on immigrants’ rights, voting rights, national security, human rights, and speech, privacy, and technology.

Learn more about CAA’s 2017 Celebration of Justice.

Disney Supports Asian and Pacific Islander Young Leaders with $500,000 Scholarship Commitment

The Walt Disney Company this week made a $500,000 commitment to establish a new scholarship program with the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) in support of high-achieving Asian and Pacific Islander college students.

The Walt Disney Company/APIASF Scholarship program will provide 150 scholarships over a three-year period and will be available to eligible students with Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity in the U.S. beginning fall 2017. This scholarship commitment is one part of Disney’s ongoing efforts to strengthen diverse communities and support higher education.

“Disney is proud to support young Asian and Pacific Islander leaders in achieving their dreams of a higher education,” said Paul Richardson, chief diversity officer, The Walt Disney Company. “By giving these promising students the resources and tools they need to earn a college degree, we enable them to create a better, brighter future for us all.”

Auli‘i Cravalho, the Native Hawaiian star of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana, and the film’s producer Osnat Shurer announced the scholarship program at APIASF’s gala on Oct.20, along with APIASF President and Executive Director Neil Horikoshi.

“Speaking on behalf of Auli‘i and all of us at Disney Animation, we are extremely honored to be part of this important scholarship commitment,” Shurer said. “We thank APIASF for their extraordinary work and Disney for its support of these initiatives.”

“The Walt Disney Company’s generous support will make a significant difference for some of the nation’s most underserved students,” Horikoshi said. “With many Asian American and Pacific Islander families facing financial barriers, The Walt Disney Company/APIASF Scholarship has the potential to be life-changing for students.”

In addition to the scholarships, Disney’s commitment will support the fund’s SMART program, which will provide students with mentoring and access to training and resources.

The Walt Disney Company/APIASF Scholarship will be available for the 2017-2018 school year. In order to be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be of Asian and/or Pacific Islander ethnicity, as defined by the U.S. Census;
  • Be a citizen, national or legal permanent resident of the United States (citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau are also eligible to apply);
  • Be enrolling in a U.S.-accredited college or university as a full-time, degree-seeking, first-year student in the 2017-2018 academic year;
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale (unweighted) or have earned a GED; and
  • Apply for federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by February 1, 2017.

Based in Washington, D.C., APIASF is the nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). For details about APIASF and the new scholarship, visit APIASF’s website at www.apiasf.org.

Hate Crime Charges Filed in Brutal Assault on Sikh Man

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office today filed hate crime charges against the attackers of Sikh American, Mr. Maan Singh Khalsa. Mr. Khalsa was brutally assaulted and his Sikh articles of faith were violently desecrated on September 25, 2016.

“The assailants violently targeted my Sikh faith. I am thankful to the Richmond Police Department and Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson for taking the right legal action in charging my attackers with hate crimes,” said Mr. Khalsa. “The charges are the first step to addressing violence and bigotry, which plague communities across the United States.”

Mr. Khalsa, a father, IT specialist and caregiver for the elderly, was driving on the night of September 25th when a man in a truck threw a beer can at his car wholly unprovoked. At an intersection further up the road, the assailants got out of the truck and assaulted Mr. Khalsa through his open car window, knocking off his Sikh turban and hitting his face repeatedly. They shouted, “Cut his fu***g hair,” pulled his head out of the window, and cut a fistful of his religiously-mandated unshorn hair with a knife. Mr. Khalsa sustained injuries to his fingers, hands, eye and teeth.

“I trusted the District Attorney’s office to do the right thing and they came through,” said Richmond Mayor, Tom Butt. “We do not condone this in Richmond and we don’t condone it in America.”

Prior to the charges, the Sikh Coalition, community leaders, and a coalition of civil rights organizations, advocated vigorously on behalf of Mr. Khalsa, urging for a hate crime investigation and prosecution.

In the 15 years that have followed 9/11, Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to be targeted in cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American. Sikhism, the fifth largest religion in the world, has been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years.

“These hate crime charges ensure that the bias-based nature of the assault on Mr. Khalsa will be addressed during the prosecution,” said Sikh Coalition Legal Director, Harsimran Kaur. “The purpose of prosecuting bias-motivated assaults as hate crimes is not to impose harsher penalties. Instead, the purpose is to mitigate hatred in our society and ensure that we are all free to safely pursue the American dream regardless of our race, ethnicity, or religion.”

The Sikh Coalition has represented hate crime clients throughout the United States for the past 15 years and is representing Maan Singh Khalsa in this case. For all media inquires, please contact Jagmeet Singh or Mark Reading-Smith, who can provide more info, send photos and facilitate interviews. Mr. Khalsa is not available for interviews, but Jagmeet or Mark can facilitate interviews with legal counsel and/or a member of the local Sikh community.

Source: Sikh Coalition

Judge Denny Chin to help Hawai’i law school students reenact trial of Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee

U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, based in New York City, will guest lecture at the UH Law School on Tuesday, October 18, and will help student actors perform a reenactment based on trials after resistance by Heart Mountain internees.  Judge Chin and his wife, attorney Kathy Hirata Chin, created the reenactment based on trial transcripts.

In addition to teaching and speaking at a faculty workshop, Judge Chin will lead a public presentation about the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, one of 10 concentration camps used to intern Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Heart Mountain is known for the active resistance offered by many of the young men incarcerated there, protesting loss of their civil rights. The short performance, featuring law student actors, will be free and open to the public in Classroom 2 at the Law School at 2515 Dole Street beginning at 5:15 p.m.

Judge Chin and Hirata Chin have been deeply involved in research about the camp, and co-wrote a script that reenacts two of the trials of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee. The committee was a group of young resisters who challenged the draft of young Nisei men, and who argued that they would not follow draft orders until the rights of internees were reinstated.

Today Heart Mountain is the internment camp with the most structures still intact.  It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 2007.

Judge Chin is well known as the trial judge who, in 2009, sentenced Bernard Madoff to 150 years in prison for the Ponzi scheme that impoverished investors who had entrusted Madoff with their life savings. In sentencing Madoff, Judge Chin said, “The message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil.”  He added that they had taken “a staggering human toll” and there was a need for “retribution.”

Dean Avi Soifer called Judge Chin’s visit an important event for the Law School, in particular because of its deep involvement in addressing and healing civil rights abuses.

Said Soifer, “It is hardly surprising that there is so much interest among our students and staff in these very important matters, in addition to the scholarly focus of a number of our faculty members.”

Professor Eric Yamamoto, the Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice, for example, has spent a scholarly lifetime researching, and writing and lecturing about, civil injustice, including the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans by their own government.  Yamamoto helped challenge the imprisonment of Fred Korematsu for defying the order to report for incarceration, winning a decisive victory in the 1980s that helped set the stage for reparations for those interned and their descendants, and a formal apology from the American government.

During their visit, Judge Chin and Hirata Chin will also meet with Law School faculty members as well as federal judges and members of the Federal Bar Association.

Judge Chin graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude in 1975, and earned his JD from Fordham Law School in 1978. Judge Chin is the only Asian American who serves as a currently active judge in the federal appellate court system. In 1994, he was the first Asian American appointed as a U.S. District Judge outside the Ninth Circuit. Hirata Chin is a leading corporate lawyer in New York City who also has led and served on multiple public interest task forces and committees.

Source: University of Hawai’i press release

Photo: Densho Digital Repository

AALDEF Seeks Volunteers to Monitor Elections

 

AALDEF is looking for volunteers in California to monitor the November 8 elections to help ensure compliance with the federal Voting rights Act and to document instances of anti-Asian voter disenfranchisement.

In past elections, Asian Americans have faced a series of barriers in exercising their right to vote.  For example, poll workers were hostile and made racist remarks, poll sites had too few interpreters to assist Asian American voters, translated voting materials were missing or hidden from voters, and ballots were mistranslated listing Democratic candidates as Republicans, and vice versa. When the news media reported on election results and the vote by specific groups, Asian Americans were often overlooked.

On November 8, 2016, AALDEF, along with other Asian American groups and bar associations, will be monitoring the elections and conducting non-partisan voter surveys at poll sites in Asian American neighborhoods.

Advance registration required. Sign up at http://www.aaldef.net.

Polling sites in California include San Diego and San Jose.

Training Sessions:

Wednesday, October 5, 12:00 PM
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, 12730 High Bluff Dr, Ste 400, San Diego*

Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 PM
National Federation of Filipino American Associations, Mabuhay Room, 1603 Hoover Ave, National City*

Thursday, October 6, 3:30 PM
Asian Law Alliance, De Anza College, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, 3:30 PM

*Light lunch/dinner will be provided

Attendance at one training session is required for all volunteers.All volunteers must be non-partisan and work a 3-hour shift. (CLE trainings are 90 minutes. Attorneys can receive 1.5 CLE credits including 0.5 ethics credit.)

For more information, contact AALDEF Staff Attorney Jerry Vattamala or Voting Rights Organizer Iris Zalun at 800-966-5946 or votingrights@aaldef.org.

Karthick Ramakrishnan Joins Board of The California Endowment

The California Endowment has appointed S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, PhD, to its board of directors. Ramakrishnan is a professor and associate dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. His appointment was effective August 15, 2016.

“I am thrilled to welcome Karthick to the Board,” said Board Chair Jane Garcia. “His expertise and guidance will be critically important to The Endowment and its partners seeking policy change that results in better health and well-being for California’s poor and marginalized communities, as well as for all Californians regardless of immigration status.”

Ramakrishnan, who has been at UC Riverside since 2005, previously served as a Research Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco from 2002-2005. In addition, he is also an organizer for the Politics of Race, Immigration, and Ethnicity Colloquium (PRIEC), a national conference series for scholars working on issues of race, immigration, and ethnicity (2005-present).

As a published author, Ramakrishnan is the founding editor (July 2014-present) of theJournal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, an official section journal of the American Political Science Association. He also has authored and co-authored a number of books, book chapters, monographs, policy reports and journal articles on various topics including politics, immigrants, immigration, and race and ethnicity, among others.

A resident of Riverside, California, Ramakrishnan, is a member of the Western Political Science Association’s Committee on the Status of Asian Pacific Americans in the Profession (2011-present). His also a member of National Park Service’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Theme Study Advisory Board (January 2013-present). He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards including Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center (2015-present).

Ramakrishnan earned his bachelor’s in International Relations and Political Science, magna cum laude, from Brown University, and his PhD in Politics from Princeton University.

The California Endowment, a private, statewide health foundation, was established in 1996 to expand access to affordable, quality health care for under-served individuals and communities, and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians. The Endowment challenges the conventional wisdom that medical settings and individual choices are solely responsible for people’s health. The Endowment believes that health happens in neighborhoods, schools, and with prevention. For more information, visit The Endowment’s Web site at http://www.calendow.org.

Source: The California Endowment press release

Historic Quad-Partisan Presidential Election Forum Highlights Rising Influence of AAPI Vote

Bill Clinton, Sean Reyes, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein Aim to Win Votes From Fastest Growing Racial Group

LAS VEGAS – On Friday, Hillary Clinton surrogate and former President Bill Clinton, Donald Trump surrogate and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein addressed more than 2,500 journalists and community leaders in the largest gathering of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the history of presidential campaign cycles.  

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), with 40 partner organizations, hosted this historic Presidential Election Forum in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, an election battleground state where nearly one in ten residents is AAPI.

“From Southeast Asia to the Indian subcontinent to Native Hawaiians, the AAPI community represents a heritage and history that spans the globe,” said APIAVote founding board member Daphne Kwok. “A recognition that this community is the lifeblood of our nation was cemented this week, as top campaign officials not only defined what AAPI meant to them personally, but also advanced discussions around how policies proposals from immigration and education to national security and trade are being focused on to empower the collective prospects of AAPIs across the country.”

During the forum, Rock the Vote announced its “Power Up” campaign, in partnership with APIAVote and youth organizations, focused on getting young AAPIs to vote. Congressman Mike Honda stated that 7,000 17-year-olds turn 18 every day. He also emphasized the power of AAPI voters to determine winners, particularly in six swing states and 85 congressional districts that are 10 percent AAPI.

AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the country, expected to grow from 20 million to more than 50 million by 2060. The rising influence of the AAPI community is evident in the past two election cycles, where the AAPI vote has been an important factor in election outcomes in key battleground states. In many of these states, the AAPI voter population either equaled or exceeded the margin of victory in previous presidential elections.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), pointed out that in 2010, Nevada Senator Harry Reid won re-election in a tight race with the support of nearly four in five AAPI voters who made up four percent of the electorate.

Data from APIAVote’s 2016 State Factsheets show that nearly half of all registered Asian American voters identify education (48%), healthcare (47%), national security (47%), and jobs (45%) as extremely important to how they cast their ballot — issues that the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, and Green Party representatives addressed in the forum. This same block of eligible AAPI voters also represents vital margins in swing states across the country, holding the key to determining the winner of the Presidential election.

  • Arizona: 146,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 3% of the electorate
  • Florida: 372,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 2.5% of the electorate
  • Michigan: 145,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.8% of the electorate
  • Minnesota: 136,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 3.1% of the electorate
  • Nevada: 177,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 9% of the electorate
  • North Carolina: 136,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.8% of the electorate
  • Ohio: 127,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 1.3% of the electorate
  • Pennsylvania: 223,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 2.1% of the electorate
  • Virginia: 310,000 eligible AAPI voters comprise 5% of the electorate

The historic forum plays a vital role in educating this segment of the electorate, ultimately empowering them to vote on Election Day and elevating their representative profile among national campaigns, voter mobilization programs, and global media outlets.

To access high-resolution photos from the event, visit here.

To access APIAVote’s 2016 State Factsheets, visit here.

A Word document press release can downloaded here.

Bill Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein to Appear at Historic AAPI Presidential Forum

UPDATE (8/12/16): Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will represent Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in this event.

Former President Bill Clinton, representing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein are set to address one of the largest gatherings of AAPI journalists and community members.

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), with more than 20 partnering community organizations, are hosting a historic Presidential Election Forum in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on August 12, 2016 at 2PM PT.

Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Mike Honda (D-CA), from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), along with other elected officials will also deliver remarks on the rising influence of the AAPI vote.

The Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are the fastest growing racial group in the country, growing from 20 million to more than 50 million by 2060.  The rising influence of the AAPI community is evident in the past two election cycles, where the AAPI vote has been an important factor in election outcomes in key battleground states.  In many of these states, the AAPI voter population either equaled or exceeded the margin of victory in a previous presidential election.

Recognizing the rising influence of the AAPI vote, campaigns are reaching out to AAPI community leaders and influencers to get their message out this election season. According to the AAJA, over 4,000 leaders from the AAPI community are expected to attend this event.

A livestream for this event is available, with language support in Cantonese Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.  Tune in at http://www.apiavote.org/townhall/live.

For those attending the event, doors open at 1:00 PM PT.  For more information on APIAVote and AAJA activities, contact Alton Wang (awang@apiavote.org) and Kathy Chow (kathyc@aaja.org).

For press inquiries, contact Benjamin Bryant, 703-868-1262, press@aapimediacenter.org.

White House AAPI Initiative, UC Riverside Partner to Improve AAPI Data

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing and most diverse racial groups in the country. Between 2000 and 2010, their populations grew by 46 percent and 40 percent, respectively, compared to 10 percent for the overall population, and these growth trends have continued since 2010.

Despite the increasing importance of AAPIs, there is a significant gap in what is known about these communities, with problems ranging from invisibility to mistaken assumptions that all Asian Americans are self-sufficient, well-educated, and upwardly mobile.

Hoping to correct that gap is a data challenge announced this week by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and AAPIData.com, a research project of the University of California, Riverside.

ELEVATE: AAPI Data Challenge seeks to engage the public in developing novel approaches to the interpretation of data on AAPIs, particularly data that is broken out by national origin, such as Cambodian, Korean, or Native Hawaiian.

Everyone – from high school students and data hobbyists to government, nonprofit and corporate analysts – is invited to participate in this pioneering effort. Submissions may include infographics, web applications, data tables, blog posts, animations, videos, and other creative mediums. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 5.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor and associate dean of UC Riverside’s School of Public Policy explained that ELEVATE: AAPI Data Challenge was created to encourage a new generation of researchers, writers, and artists to develop new ways of visualizing and interpreting data about the AAPI population.

“We have seen big improvements in data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the last decade,” Ramakrishnan said. “We hope to inspire people to take advantage of this new data, not just for academic research but also for news reporting, storytelling, and helping to inform public policy.”

Read more on UCR Today.