SIDEBAR Summer 2021 - 19

MONTGOMERY B AR .O R G
SIDEBAR FEATURE
The following statement was
delivered to the MBA Board
of Directors on March 25, 2021
By Jimmy C. Chong, Esq.
G
ood evening ladies and gentlemen
and thank you for allowing me to
speak tonight. My name is Jimmy
Chong and I am a member of the MBA
and a Co-Chair of the DEI committee.
I'm here to discuss the much-publicized
violence and hate against Asian Americans
taking place from coast to coast in
America.
Asian Americans have long been
discriminated against and treated as lesser
beings in this country, going back to the
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which
made it illegal for Chinese laborers,
aka Asian laborers, to immigrate into
America. At this time it was already illegal
for Chinese women to immigrate to
America. This is the only American law
that ever specified one race and disallowed
that race's entry into the country. In 1943
the law changed, to allow for 105 Chinese
immigrants into the country per year. It
was not until 1965 that the prohibition or
control of the number of Asians allowed
into America was found to be illegal.
From 1942 to 1945, the American
government created internment camps
for Japanese Americans; thus, if you were
of Japanese descent you were locked up
in the camps. It didn't matter if you were
born in America nor that you had never
been to Japan; you were thrown into these
internment camps. You were not treated
as an American citizen in the country
in which you were born and the only
country you knew but rather as an evil
Asian foreigner who did not belong in
America.
In 1982, a young Chinese American
man in Detroit, named Vincent Chin,
was celebrating his bachelor party when
he was beaten to death. At this time,
the American auto industry was on the
decline and the Japanese auto industry
was on the rise. The two men, who
assumed Vincent Chin was Japanese,
beat him to death and blamed him
for the mass layoffs taking place in the
American auto industry. Although he was
an American he was not seen as American
by these two men but as an Asian invader
taking away American jobs. Even worse,
he wasn't seen as American by the US
legal system. He was seen as an Asian, a
lesser being. I say that because the two
men who beat him to death pled guilty
and received no jail time but only a
$3,000 fine and three years of probation.
Asian Americans have been told to
" go back to your own country " although
we were born here or brought here as
young children. When we are old enough
to leave the house, we learn very quickly
that we are treated differently. We are
called " chink, " " slant eyes " and " gook "
and authority figures tell us that it's just
a joke or that we are being too sensitive
when we're upset. However, if we use a
derogatory word in defense, we suffer
real consequences. We have been publicly
embarrassed and even worse, our elders
have been publicly embarrassed because
of an accent or weak grasp of the English
language. Many people think it's a
compliment when they tell us we speak
English " good. " However, no matter how
well we speak English or dress and act
as Americans, even when it's not an act
since we are Americans, we're not treated
as Americans because of our physical
characteristics. We are spit on, pushed
aside, our moms and sisters objectified,
and our fathers and brothers ridiculed. As
kids, we have been outnumbered on the
playground leaving us to fight multiple
people at once. And as adults, we have
been robbed, beaten, and murdered.
Now although these crimes have been
in the news recently, please understand
these crimes have always taken place.
There has indeed been an uptick over the
past 4-5 years, especially recently as some
people blame people of Asian descent for
the COVID-19 Virus or, as others refer to
it, the China Virus or KungFlu.
Now, why am I telling you this? I'm
sharing these things because as lawyers
and a legal association, we are privileged
to have a great deal of influence on the
law. With that privilege comes moral
responsibility. In the past, lawyers drafted,
supported, and passed ANTI Asian
legislation; we can help right those wrongs
in the present by drafting, supporting,
and passing Anti hate legislation.
Furthermore, I'm asking the MBA and
all its members to publicly condemn the
violence against Asian Americans. For real
change to take place, mainstream America
has to speak out and support us because
without your support and acceptance we
will continue to be looked upon as lesser
beings and not as Americans.
Finally, I ask that we continue to
educate ourselves, our members, and our
community to further diversity, equity,
and inclusion. The DEI committee is
presently developing a CLE as part of our
" We Need To Talk " series and I ask that
the bar membership attend. We have not
yet completed the agenda or set a date but
when we do we will let everyone know.
Now I know that the Asian American
plight is not the only one out there and
there are so many issues in the world
today. I don't want to seem like I am
disregarding or diminishing anyone else's
experiences I just want to convey to you
the Asian American experience.
SUMMER 2021 19
http://montgomerybar.org

SIDEBAR Summer 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SIDEBAR Summer 2021

SIDEBAR Summer 2021 - 1
SIDEBAR Summer 2021 - 2
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARWinter2017-18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSummer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/MontgomeryBarAssociation/SIDEBARSpring2017
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