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Frank H. Wu, president of Queens College, City University of New York, discussed his perspective on the Asian-American experience and how it must lead to allyship with the historic struggle for Black equality as part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series. His talk, “Asian Americans at a Crossroads During COVID-19: Allyship and the Future of Civil Rights,” was held via Zoom in September.
“As a people, all of us, we stand in this crossroads as we address not only the pandemic, but the problems of racial discrimination,” Wu said. “As much as we have made progress on the ideals we share, there are still disparities and violence that results in death. This is a moment fraught with tension and anxiety, and yet I have hope in the power of words, rhetoric principles and coalition building.”
Wu described how in some instances throughout U.S. history, Asian- Americans were considered the “model minority” compared to other people of color. He said such prejudices can lead to an exaggerated or distorted image of the Asian-American community.
“Asian-Americans get brought into the discussion not to unite, but to divide,” Wu said. “It leads to inaccurate comparisons. My concern is when we generalize on a racial basis, because we know how dangerous racial stereotypes are.
“The problem with the model minority myth is it’s just not factually accurate. Asian-Americans are the least likely group in America to be
promoted to management in Silicon Valley. They face bullying and hazing at high levels.”
Wu pointed to several notable instances of anti-Asian-American sentiments, including the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
“I believe we face a moral dilemma for individuals in communities as Asian-Americans are being blamed for COVID-19 – not just for being contagious but for being culpable” Wu said. “Not just the notion that they are vectors for infection, but that somehow as a people they are to blame.”
Wu concluded his remarks in what he described as an abiding belief in the American dream among Asian immigrants.
“They continue to come and hope to share in the prosperity of this nation through the opportunity available,” he said. “They seek to make their future on these shores.
“Diversity and democracy are twin ideals. Both processes require our engagement and our participation. That is ultimately what our society has been built upon. It is up to us to make good on these ideals.”
   University of Houston Law Center Associate Professor of Law and Political Science Zachary D. Kaufman was selected to join the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools’ International Human Rights Section in January. He also serves as the section’s treasurer.
“In an era when so much of the world is moving backward on human rights, rigorous scholarly engagement in this crucial field is increasingly needed,” Kaufman said. “I am honored to be selected as a leader of the Association
Professor Zachary D. Kaufman
Briefcase 2020
Queens College, City University of New York President Frank H. Wu
of American Law Schools’
International Human Rights Section, which is dedicated to raising that academic discourse in our turbulent times.”
The purpose of the section is to “promote the communication
of ideas, interests, and activities among members and makes recommendations to the AALS on matters of interest in the teaching and improvement of the law relating to international human rights.”
Kaufman, who teaches criminal law, international law, and international justice and Atrocities, is already a leader of another prominent legal association’s human rights section. He continues to serve as vice chair of the American Society of International Law’s Human Rights Interest Group.

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