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OCA-NY Newsletter - March 2017

Board Retreat

On January 7, 2017, OCA-NY's new board held its board retreat where they discussed the agenda for the year. New board members Jiawen Tang, Sophia Luu, Julia Chung, Andrew Meehan, Winnie Hu, and Andrew Chang were welcomed aboard! Rounding up the group are: Betty Chan, David Fung, June Jee, Chi Loek, Yan Sin, Yu Sing Yee, Gee-Wey Yue, Rose Eng, Jerry Cheng, Dr. Wah Lee and Susie Yuen.

The new board discussed committees, voter registration work in the past year, organizing an immigration Know Your Rights forum in light of the current political atmosphere (see below in Upcoming Events), and women's marches in Washington DC and New York.

Lighter fare included OCA-NY's participation in the Lunar New Year parades (see photo on right), honoring Judge Dorothy Chin-Brandt, who is retiring, and obtaining business cards and official e-mails for board members.

Above all, the board tried to keep warm in the cold office space during the year's first snow storm!
2017 Board Retreat
Lunar New Year Parades
This Lunar New Year, OCA-NY participated in the Lunar New Year parade in Flushing and Chinatown, New York with Families with Children from China (FCC).  
2017 Anti-Muslim Ban is the Current 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
By: Elizabeth R. OuYang, Esq.

Trump's first anti-Muslim ban was announced on Friday, January 27, 2017 sending shock waves throughout the country.  With less than 48 hours notice,  OCA-NY participated in an impromptu rally in Battery Park, just two days later, to denounce this shameful and racist ban.  Led by The New York Immigration Coalition with a "shaken" Statute of Liberty in the background, thousands came out in a unified show of resistance. This ban restricted all but U.S. citizens from seven Muslim countries for ninety days, indefinitely stopped Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., and temporarily banned  refugees from other countries. The sudden implementation of Trump's Executive Order caused chaos at the airports.  As green card holders, relatives, students, and tourists en route to the U.S. from these seven countries landed on U.S. soil, they were either immediately sent back, detained, or questioned for multiple hours. As news spread of the anti-Muslim ban, within hours, hundreds flocked to the airport to protest and to offer legal help to the detainees. Courts around the country signed emergency orders temporarily staying the enforcement of the ban.

This unstoppable momentum of unified resistance grew to thousands in two days.  From Battery Park,  this diverse and impassioned crowd marched past the Financial District to the Department of Homeland Security at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan to show the world "what democracy looks like." For Chinese Americans especially, this modern day Muslim ban is a rendition of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. As immigrants or descendant of immigrants, we must join broad-based efforts to denounce any government policy that selectively targets immigrants for exclusion because of their race, ethnicity, or religion. Make no mistake - the current administration has a strong anti-immigrant agenda. We must step up and be unified so that the clock does not turn back to 1882.
OCA-NY's Response to the Steve Harvey's Show's Racist Jokes on Asian Men
 
On January, 6 2017, Steve Harvey, talk show host of the Steve Harvey Show ("SHS"), made racist jokes about white and African American women being unattracted to Asian men and perpetuating negative stereotypes of Asian culture. In a press release on January 16, 2017, OCA-NY and other supporters, including the playwright David Henry Hwang and Jack Tchen (New York University Asian/Pacific/American Institute) called for a meeting with the Steve Harvey Show producers to demand an apology and to educate them on the history of discrimination against Asian American men and hate crimes that stem from racist stereotypes.

Mr. Harvey issued an apology on January 17, 2017 on Twitter, stating: "I offer my humblest apology for offending anyone, particularly those in the Asian community, last week. It was not my intention and the humor was not meant with any malice or disrespect whatsoever."

Following this, Craig Robinson, Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity Office of NBC Universal, reached out to OCA-NY. OCA-NY President Chi Loek spoke with Mr. Robinson about the issues concerning Asian Americans and the inappropriateness of Mr. Harvey's comments on national television show. Subsequent to their conversation, OCA-NY sent a follow up letter emphasizing the need for greater representation of Asian Americans on daytime national television and the need for SHS to be an agent of change by inviting any number of well-known Asian American actors as guests on the show.
My Experience at the Albany Leaders’ Summit 2017
By: Chi Loek, OCA-NY President

At 5 am on a chilly Tuesday morning in late January, I boarded a westbound no. 7 train to begin my journey to Albany to attend the Albany Leaders' Summit 2017 ("Summit"). The train quickly filled with minority working class New York residents. These were the immigrants that make New York's economic engine run smoothly and they were the reasons why OCA-NY was joining the New York Immigration Coalition ("NYIC") and other community partners to improve their lives at the Summit.  

The downstate contingents arrived at Empire State Plaza in Albany and met with their upstate counterparts. Steven Choi, NYIC Executive Director, welcomed us and Assemblyman Francisco Moya provided opening remarks. Other elected officials, including Governor’s Counsel Alphonso David, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senators Jeff Klein and Andrea Stewart-Cousins and NY Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, provided their insights of their experience and challenges in Albany. Muzna Ansari, NYIC Immigration Policy Manager, prepared us on the state priorities and Andre Mozeak, NYIC Civic Engagement Fellow, presented helpful tips for our lobby visits.The Summit's fully packed agenda included key state policy and budget recommendations; adult education and work force development; driver licenses for all New Yorkers; education for immigrant students; farm workers' labor rights; healthcare coverage for all immigrants; and legal services and tuition affordability for all New Yorkers.  

Because the Legislature was in session, my team was not able to meet with our assigned Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa. However, I took my time to visit Assembly members Ron Kim, Yuh-Line Niou and William Colton. Since all were in session, I spoke to their office representatives and advocated for better services to immigrants.

After my legislative visits, I attended a campaign that pushed for driver licenses for undocumented immigrants. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer was there to promote this effort. By granting driver licenses to all New Yorkers, New York State would be able to improve public safety, increase employment opportunities, lower auto insurance premiums, increase the strength of families and financial stability and increase revenues that would offset program costs.

My shared experiences with my community partners at the Summit will remain deeply in my heart and I will continue to advocate for better funding and services for our immigrant communities. As an immigrant myself, I see how much immigrants have contributed to our society.
Black History Month Community Forum
By: Jiawen Tang, OCA-NY Board Member

In honor of Black History Month in February, OCA-NY organized an outing to the renowned Apollo Theatre for their Uptown Hall series, “Trial by Jury: The Case of the N-Word.” The event was an interactive community forum about “one of the most provocative, polarizing, and debated words in America.” The program began with a video of a fictional case about the use of the N-word in a classroom lesson on Civil Rights without parental consent, and though the audience was supposed to serve as the jury to decide the outcome of the fictional case, the dialogue quickly expanded to broader conversation of the evolving role of the N-word in the Black community. Aided by an expert panel that included radio personality EMEZ, psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, comedienne Stephanie McRae, and CCNY Black Studies Director Dr. Cheryl Sterling, the town hall was a passionate, animated debate that shed light on the incredibly complex perspectives and historical resonance of the N-word.

One of the most interesting aspects of the discussion was that the power and meaning of the N-word can morph, depending on who was using the word, to whom the word was addressed, and in what context the word was used. While some audience members felt it resolute in excluding the N-word from all potential scenarios because of the ugly history associated with the word, others felt that there were certain contexts in which the N-word can be used as a term of endearment and closeness. While an overwhelming majority of the audience voted in favor of the defendant (the school) using the N-word in a classroom history lesson, the audience did not reach a consensus on the appropriate designation of the N-word in society as a whole. All in all, the OCA-NY attendees agreed that the Uptown Hall event was a thought-provoking educational experience that left us with much more to examine on the ways in which words can shape communities and vice versa.
A Member’s Brief Introduction to Microaggressions
By: Hon. Christopher Lee

"Microaggression" is a newer concept in the theories of discrimination.  Along with “implicit bias,” “data aggregation,” and “misappropriation”, the war against discrimination is now being fought on additional and different battlegrounds.  Overt prejudice is, of course, still present, but the subtler forms noted above have taken hold and have even taken by surprise many unsuspecting AAPI.
 
 At a recent gathering hosted by the Asian American Federation (AAF) and Teach for America (TFA), microaggressions was the topic discussed.   While geared toward teachers, this joint AAF/TFA effort was nonetheless a great introduction to the subject and a primer on PC discourse.  I'm "old school" so was not accustomed to such lingo as "group agreements," or pronouns.  This was my first introduction to pronouns and much of the more technical terminology like "microassaults, microinsults, microinvalidation" (cf Wikipedia for a good starting point).   

 
Microaggressions are usually unintended insults (but can include direct and explicit derogatory words or actions), frequently not obvious and many times somewhat vague.  AAPIs may encounter them several times in a day and not even realize it. Common examples might be: “Wow, you speak English well!” or  “Oh, you didn’t get over 800 on your Math SAT?” Generally, these statements are based on stereotypes, and can even be well-meaning. They do not in themselves violate any laws, although a constant and pervasive barrage of such comments can create an atmosphere of racial or national origin hostility, which could be illegal in certain contexts.      
 
There was much lively discussion sprinkled with personal experiences from everyday life as well as from the educational arena.   The exchange of ideas included how participants reacted—not infrequently victims felt some ambiguity as to whether there was actually an insult or whether it was a personal hyper-sensitivity.  A follow-up discussion held on March 14th focused on response and intervention.
OCA-NY in the St. Pat's for All Parade
By: Andrew Meehan, OCA-NY Board Member

On March 5, 2017, OCA-NY participated in the St. Pat's for All Parade, the first all inclusive parade in New York City in Queens!  Representing OCA-NY were board members June Jee and Andrew Meehan and former board member and current OCA-NY member Kathy Wah Lee. The parade marched along 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue and ended on 58th Street and Woodside Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens. OCA-NY was proud to participate in the all-inclusive parade that celebrated diversity! Despite the cold, cold weather, there was a very good turnout!
On March 19, 2017, OCA-NY co-sponsored and participated in a rally held at Battery Park that pushed for early voting and automatic voter registration, amongst other issues, so that more citizens could have access and opportunity to vote. Community advocates demanded that Governor Cuomo make New York a leader in election reform and that this year's state budget include such essential voting reforms. Co-sponsors included Common Cause/NY, APA Voice, SEIU 32BJ, New York Immigration Coalition, Make the Road NY, and many others.
On March 22, 2017, OCA-NY Board of Directors and Advisory Council had the distinct pleasure and honor of celebrating the distinguished career of the recently retired Hon. Dorothy Chin-Brandt, Acting Justice of New York State Supreme Court, Queens County with Hon. Randall T. Eng, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Second Judicial Department.
RECAP
  • OCA-NY endorsed and participated in the Women's Marches in NYC and Washington DC in January 2017.
  • OCA-NY members went to see Pan Asian Repertory Theatre's World Premiere of "Incident at Hidden Temple" at the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row in February 2017.
  • OCA-NY co-sponsored a screening of Felicia Lowe's Chinese Couplets, followed by a timely Open Forum in February 2017 at MoCA.
  • OCA-NY signed on to support College Opportunity Resource Expansion (CORE), a tuition affordability campaign for all New Yorkers, which is designed to relieve the burden of student loan debt. For more information, please visit www.corenys.org.
UPCOMING EVENTS

OCA-NY'S INAUGURAL MAAP PROGRAM is about to launch! Register at the link below to become a mentor or mentee! Free for OCA-NY members. See the flyer below for more information.
Save the Dates!
  • OCA-NY Networking Mixer on April 25th at Asia Roma at 6:30 pm! 
  • Recruitment for Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York starts in April; practices start in June, so get in shape NOW!
  • 38th Annual Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration - Sunday, May 24, 11am - 4 pm in Chinatown, NYC
  • Immigration Forum in Sunset Park, Brooklyn on June 10th
Volunteer and Paid Opportunities
  • Voter Registration: OCA-NY will resume voter registration on Sunday, April 9, 2017, to register new voters for the upcoming local elections. Voter registration drives will take place at the Queens Library at Flushing, YMCA located in Chinatown and Flushing, Hester Avenue Park in Chinatown, and at various OCA-NY events such as the Immigration Forum in June. Voter registration is an important part of OCA-NY's mission to promote and advocate for political, economic and social equality for Asian Americans. Those interested in volunteering to help with voter registration, please reach out to OCA-NY Board Member Andrew Meehan at garmeehan@aol.com
  • OCA-NY is looking for a college student or recent college graduate for a full-time summer internship position to coordinate OCA-NY's 11th Annual Hate Crimes Prevention Art Project. For more background about the history of the project, please go to www.oca-ny.org.
          Dates of Internship:  May 25 - August 14, 2017

          Stipend:  $2,750 (includes local travel expenses)

          Application Deadline:  Monday, April 17, 2017, 6 p.m. EST
 
          Please send a cover letter, current resume and essay (500 words maximum) on why you should be selected for this position, include names and contact information of two references: one from someone who is knowledgeable about your character and leadership skills and one from a professor that has taught you within the last year.  E-mail cover letter, resume, essay and references to info@oca-ny.org.  Indicate in the subject line:  "OCA-NY Hate Crimes Project Summer Internship-then put your name."
Copyright © 2017 OCA-NY, All rights reserved.

Email: info@oca-ny.org | Mail: OCA-NY, P.O. Box 3233, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008

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