Dear friends of Bay Area Legal Aid,
Today Bay Area Legal Aid celebrates the Lunar New Year along with many of our AAPI communities for whom this holiday is such a significant occasion. We extend our wishes for a safe, happy, and thriving New Year to our colleagues, partners, and the AAPI communities with whom we work.
In the midst of this joyful celebration, we are also outraged and saddened by the recent acts of violence against members of our community. Assaults on AAPI seniors in the Bay Area serve as a stark reminder of the ways that AAPI communities have been and continue to be disproportionately exposed to hate, violence and harassment. BayLegal takes this moment to condemn this violence, affirm our solidarity with those who have been harmed and with the multiracial, community-based response already underway, and to commit to solidifying and extending our partnerships with the AAPI community. We also take this moment to clearly affirm that such an alliance is a core element of the collective choice we have made as a firm to develop an anti-racist practice.
This affirmation includes a recognition that acts of direct personal violence against AAPI individuals and communities are inextricably linked to forms of structural violence. Colonialism, immigration exclusion, de facto and de jure enclosure and segregation of communities, coerced and exploited labor, language and culture discrimination all play a role in the exposure of AAPI communities to the threat and reality of hate and violence today. The reality facing any civil legal aid firm, throughout the nation and pointedly in the Bay Area, is that this history shapes inequitable realities today, including the availability and stability of housing, the ability of organizations and intermediaries to respond to interpersonal violence in communities isolated by histories of language exclusion and cultural segregation, the history of unjust immigration policies, and the ongoing dynamics of unequal access to the civil justice system. We must understand as a firm and as a field that our work to value and promote the safety of AAPI clients, colleagues, and communities entails the deeper work of acknowledging and addressing these far-reaching cultural, social and political inequalities that give violence a foothold.
I am proud of BayLegal’s work to serve the AAPI community, and in that context I especially want to share my gratitude for the dedication and skill of the multilingual staff members who are essential to this work. However, I know that we can do more and better in the struggle against ongoing colonialism and anti-AAPI racism and violence. Like all antiracist work, this effort is iterative and ongoing. BayLegal as a firm is committed to raising awareness about and responding to these acts of hate and violence, and we invite our wider community to join us in learning skills related to bystander intervention, continuing to dialogue with community members, and seeking ways to partner with and support AAPI organizations, neighborhoods and businesses.
Genevieve Richardson, Executive Director
Events and Resources in Response to Anti-AAPI Violence
- Love Our People – Heal Our Communities rallies in Oakland and San Francisco this weekend.
- Trainings on Bystander Intervention, Conflict De-escalation, and how to respond to harassment
- Stop AAPI Hate
- Stand Against Hatred – a project of Asian Americans Advancing Justice