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NY group apologizes after calling Asians racist

By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor

An advocacy group dedicated to “building a movement of low-income people dedicated to ending the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and homelessness is apologizing for comments it made about the Asian American community.

It happened during a hearing before New York’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights.

“You see them Asian people that were just talking? I live in Rego Park now. That is the racist-est neighborhood I’ve ever been in and it’s nothing but Asian people,” said a man representing VOCAL New York. “If you go into a store, it will follow you around like you around like you’re getting ready to steal something…”They don’t want Black people to live in Black people neighborhoods. It’s not their neighborhood, because they from China, Hong Kong. We’re from New York.”

The man was later identified as union leader and homeless advocate D. Powell.

The comments set off a fierce debate on Twitter with some condemning the comments as racist and other saying it speaks to anti-Blackness in the Asian community.

“I found this disgusting and shocking. And that nobody on

@NYCCouncil called it out is unconscionable,” said Andrew Fine.

“I am from here & I wouldn’t want to live next door to someone who believes that Asian Americans are not Americans, that we don’t belong here,” said Atse12345. “It’s not a race issue; it’s a safety issue. Any person of any nationality or ethnicity can be xenophobic.”

But others defended the remarks.

“Until the anti-Black racism and bigotry in the Asian community is addressed, true allyship can not be built,” said Devine from Brooklyn.

“He had a point though,” said Boba Cyclist.

VOCAL New York, however, took full responsibility for Powell’s comments and apologized in a series of tweets.

“The harmful language used is unacceptable and not representative of the values & mission of our organization,” it said. “We are committed to & depend upon cross-cultural solidarity. We acknowledge the personal and collective education practices it takes to build and achieve that, and we apologize for the harm that today’s language has caused our siblings of Asian descent.”

Rep Grace Meng of New York thanked VOCAL New York for its apology.

“Thank you @VOCALNewYork for your quick & constructive response, she said. “I look forward to having much-needed dialogue between our shared communities. Any existing tension & underlying issues can’t be addressed with bigotry.”

VOCAL New York thanked Meng for her response.

Happy Lunar New Year! Time is running out to support our Lunar New Year Fundraising Drive through this link. The campaign ends today. AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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