Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dealing with Discrimination

By Joel Wong, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Discrimination

Earlier this year, President Kathleen To appointed Jingli Yu, Richard To and myself to an Ad Hoc Committee on Discrimination. The purpose of this committee is to complement the Vision and Mission of the 80-20 Initiative, which is to work for equality and justice for all Asian Americans. Our roles include gathering information on cases where Asian Americans may be discriminated or otherwise mistreated. Our responsibilities include studying on actions we would take and to recommend such actions to the 80-20 Board of Directors for execution.

Recently working together with the Organization of Chinese Americans and other Asian American civil rights groups, we convinced CBS radio to fire two New York City Disc Jockeys who were particularly egregious in racially insulting and sexually harassing members of a Chinese restaurant wait staff who spoke limited, accented English. This illustrates 80-20 can be very effective when we enlist the help of our members through e-mail petitions.

Although the profile of the above case (as in the case leading to the firing of Don Imus) was high as they made the major news headlines, the long-term impact of these cases may be low. Real civil rights victories involving women and minorities are won only after long litigation involving much time and expenditure.

Obviously, the committee (and 80-20) must set priorities in addressing alleged discrimination cases. As we do not have the resources to handle every case, the most egregious cases will be handled first. Although 80-20 will defend the rights of all Asian Americans, in order of priorities, the problems facing Life-Members and regular Members will take precedent over those of the general public.

The good news:80-20 and other Asian American organizations considered the proposed Senate bill to be unfair to Asian Americans. It would have eroded the basic rights of American citizens with close family members overseas. We were the leading organization to lead a Call to Action signature drive and collected over 1,200 names in a few days. Our Petition was sent to the Senators and on Wednesday, June 6th, the immigration bill was defeated at the Senate.

Action needed:
The Senate is attempting to bring the bill back and with the passage of some amendments, the final bill may even be harsher to Asian Americans. Please, if you have not done so, sign our online petition to stop the elimination of family reunion categories: .

Your action does work and thank you for playing a role.

Join 80-20. 80-20 needs your leadership, support and money to fight. Using a credit card, visit (easy to use) or

PERSONAL checks are payable to "80-20 PAC", mailed to:
Jing-Li Yu Treasurer
P.O. Box 527340 Flushing, NY 11352-7340 .
Please write down your E-MAIL address & PHONE no. on the BACK of the check.
Life membership is $1,000; Family (2 voters) is $50; Basic Membership is $35; Student membership is $15.