Our Statements

Anti-Asian Violence 2.0

Going for a morning stroll.
Walking around the neighborhood park.
Opening the door for a customer.
Clocking in and out of work.

These are the daily, mundane activities that Vicha Ratanapakdee, Ee Lee, Yong Ae Yue, Amarjeet Kaur Johal, Amarjit Sekhon, Jasvinder Kaur, and Jaswinder Singh were engaging in when they were murdered. For too many Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders (AANHPI), stepping out the front door and entering public spaces means confronting the fear that they could be the next victim.

Though the presence of Filipinos in North America, and Native Hawaiians in Hawaii predates the arrival of European colonizers, white supremacists have traditionally cast Asians as an invading, diseased, subhuman hoard. This had deadly consequences for 19th century Chinese and South Asian laborers, Japanese-American citizens during World War II, Chinese Americans and Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants during the 1980s recession, and South Asians in the aftermath of 9/11. Anti-Asian hate and violence are so embedded in our country’s DNA that news and social media institutions uncritically broadcasted and amplified the incendiary racist rhetoric of Donald Trump and the Republican party.

Despite the social, political, and economic progress that some AANHPI communities achieved, which was the basis for the model minority myth conjured up by white supremacists looking to create a wedge between AANHPI and Black communities; many AANHPI communities struggled with food scarcity and lack of access to affordable housing, educational opportunities, and quality medical and mental health care even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The multitudes of identities and voices that comprise AANHPI communities are rarely seen and heard in public discourses about racism because including AANHPI perspectives adds an unwelcome complex layer of nuance to the familiar Black-White binary lens through which most Americans view race. Consequently, yet another generation of invisible, at-risk AANHPIs that are already struggling against systemic racism must also wrestle with the fear and trauma of being targeted for humiliation and racial violence.

At CFR, we are defenders that have seen up close the disastrous consequences of disproportionately investing in law enforcement and prisons in furtherance of public policy that criminalizes poverty and race as a way of addressing social problems. There’s ample evidence that stabilizing communities by providing access to affordable health care, affordable housing, mental health services, education, employment, and opportunities to thrive lowers crime rates and deters violence. Stopping hate means reprioritizing and redistributing funding away from oppressive institutions, and investing in and empowering impacted communities. CFR continues to stand alongside our AANHPI staff, our AANHPI clients, our neighbors in Manhattan’s Chinatown and Jamaica, Queens, and all AANHPI communities fighting for justice and liberation.





Examples of some Supreme Court Cases that have grappled with defining Asian American

1854 The People v. Hall

This Supreme Court Case, ruled that the testimony of a Chinese man who witnessed a murder by a white man was thrown out due to the opinion that the Chinese were “a race of people whom nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point, as their history has shown; differing in language, opinions, color, and physical conformation; between whom and ourselves nature has placed an impassable difference” and as such as no right “to swear away the life of a citizen” or participate” with us in administering the affairs of our Government.”  Chinese people, like Black and Indigenous folx, were not allowed to testify in court, making it impossible for Chinese immigrants to seek justice through legal pathways.

1896 Plessy v. Ferguson

Justice Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson where he contrasts Chinese people with Black people, stating that “the Chinese race (is) a race so different from our own that we do not permit those belonging to it to become citizens of the United States.”

1898 United States v. Wong Kim Ark

Wong Kim Ark was born in the US and traveled regularly to China to visit family.  On returning from one trip, immigration officers barred his entry as an excludable Chinese person.  Wong asserted his right to enter as a U.S. citizen but was challenged by the Immigration Bureau, which assumed that no Chinese person could hold U.S. citizenship.

1922 Ozawa v. United States

In 1922, the US Supreme Court found Takao Ozawa, a Japnaese-American who was born in Japan but had lived in the US for 20 years, ineligible for naturalization. In 1915, Takao Ozawa filed for US citizenship under the Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed only “free white persons” and “persons of African nativity or persons of African descent” to naturalize.  Justice Sutherland clarified that the Japanese were not “free what persons”within the meaning of the law.

1923 United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind

The US Supreme Court decided that Bhagat Singh Thind, a high-caste Indian Sikh man who identified himself as an Aryan (being from northern INdia “the original home of the Aryan conquerors”) was ineligible for naturalized citizenship in the US.  On February 19, 1923, the Court unanimously decided against Thind, ruling that people of Indian descent were not white and hence ineligible for naturalization

1927 Lum V. Rice

U.S. Supreme Court on November 21, 1927, ruled (9-0) that a Mississippi school board had not violated the  fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause when it classified a student of Chinese descent as “colored” and barred her from attending a white high school

1942 Korematsu v. United States

On February 19, 1942, two months after the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan’s military against the US, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which forced the imprisonment of all Japanese American citizens. Korematsu failed to submit to relocation and was arrested.  He appealed the district court’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which upheld both the conviction and the exclusion order.  The Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeal, but upheld Korematsu’s conviction.

1974 Lau v. Nichols

A US Supreme Court case in which the Court unanimously decided that the lack of supplemental language instruction in public school for students with limited English proficiency was a civil rights violation.  The court held that since non-English speakers were denied a meaningful education, the disparate impact caused by the school policy violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the school district was demanded to provide students with “appropriate relief”.