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An Update from the ABF: The ABF Condemns Anti-Asian/American Violence and Xenophobic Harassment

April 4, 2021 

Dear ABF Community, 

In recent weeks, our country has witnessed a rash of horrific and intolerable acts of anti-Asian/American violence and xenophobic harassment.  Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the United States have been terrorized by senseless violence and degradationAccording to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremismanti-Asian hate crimes increased nearly 150 percent in 2020. 

As we have done in the past, the American Bar Foundation (ABF) strongly reaffirms its condemnation of all racism, including the recent acts of violence and harassment against the AAPI communities.  We stand in solidarity with our friends in the academic community and the nation’s diverse bar associations to denounce this increasing violence, xenophobia, discrimination, and hateful rhetoric.   

The recent racism against AAPI communities has intensified amidst the global pandemic, fueled in part by pernicious political rhetoric.  But to be sure, there is a long and tragic history of anti-Asian sentiment and xenophobia in the United States, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans to the Islamophobia and violence against South Asian communities in the wake of 9/11. As the first ABF Director of color and the child of South Asian immigrants, I can personally attest to how this history has harmed our AAPI communities.  For too long, Asian Americans have been viewed as “perpetual foreigners,” unable or unwilling to assimilate to mainstream American culture. 

The ABF has long been a leader in expanding knowledge and advancing justice in the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  At the ABF, we use the power of ideas and rigorous empirical and interdisciplinary research to identify problems, uncover biases, and confront injustice and inequality. As an institution, we are especially proud of our work on Portrait Project 2.0, an ongoing ABF study that investigates the current challengefaced by the Asian American legal community, including subtle and insidious forms of discrimination and exclusion.  Our research matters now more than ever, and we should all be proud that the ABF as an organization continues to do the work and speak out on issues of race, racism, and inequality.

The ABF has always been, and will always remain, a community for all. It is up to all of us to maintain those ideals. Thank you. 

Please be well and stay safe. 


Ajay K. Mehrotra 

Executive Director, American Bar Foundation 

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