We are members of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice [JFREJ], fundraising for our beloved comrades at CAAAV! At this year's CAAAV Karaoke Battle, JFREJ will bring the best of our harmonies, sequins, and moves for the love of this transformative grassroots organization.
We celebrate CAAAV’s 30-year history of high-impact grassroots organizing among New York City’s pan-Asian communities. With a membership base of over 450 individuals, and a support base of over 3,800, CAAAV organizes low-income Asian youth and immigrants in Chinatown and Queensbridge Public Housing in transformational coalition-based campaigns for racial, gender, and economic justice.
The Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, now known as CAAAV, emerged in 1986 in response to burgeoning anti-Asian violence across the country, including the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin. As CAAAV’s focus grew to reflect a broader analysis of the root causes of violence, their work grew in parallel; it now encompasses campaigns against police brutality and unjust labor and housing conditions, anti-war demonstrations, and community-based organizing that never shies away from a fight with City Hall.
CAAAV’s work in Chinatown, with NYCHA residents, and with Asian youth exemplifies their savvy blend of base-building, leadership development, direct action campaigns, alliance building, and organizational development. One of the last affordable working-class immigrant communities in Manhattan’s Chinatown is the heart of NYC’s Chinese culture and history. In response to gentrification and deteriorating living conditions that threaten to push out Chinatown’s immigrant residents,
CAAAV’s leadership development work has provided those residents with the skills, training, and vision to organize and resist so that they can preserve their community. Similarly, CAAAV’s NYCHA Organizing Project develops the leadership of Bengali, Chinese, and Korean public housing residents to fight for language access, healthier living conditions, and public housing preservation. Their seven-month-long Asian Youth in Action (AYA) internship program brings together Bangla, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese-speaking Asian youth ages 14-21 to serve low-income Asian immigrant communities and, at the same time, gain professional development and leadership experience. Past successes include protections for Chinatown street vendors targeted by Mayor Giulliani; recent successes include the city’s allocation of $14 million for East River waterfront parks and open green space accessible to Chinatown and Lower East Side residents, and improved language access for immigrant New Yorkers under Mayor Bloomberg CAAAV demonstrated their risk-taking commitment for justice by calling for accountability after rookie cop Peter Liang killed Akai Gurley. White officers accused of similar crimes had escaped prosecution in NYC, and some claimed Liang was only indicted only because he is Asian American. While recognizing that Peter Liang was treated differently from White officers, CAAAV still firmly holds true to their commitment to systemic change. CAAAV weathered intense backlash from some within the Chinese American community, standing steadfastly with Akai Gurley’s family and their call for accountability. JFREJ and CAAAV’s collaboration dates back to the 90s, when we began to partner on police accountability. In the early 2000s, we partnered closely with Domestic Workers United, then a project of CAAAV. In 2007, CAAAV and JFREJ joined scores of other grassroots organizations to form the Right to the City Alliance, a unified response to gentrification. JFREJ members joined hundreds of other New Yorkers to support post-Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in Chinatown led by CAAAV. JFREJ and CAAAV are among the organizational members of Communities United for Police Reform, a citywide coalition that won the Community Safety Act in 2012. CAAAV is consistently pushing social justice campaigns and coalitions to be transformative, not transactional, and to center the voices of frontline communities. We honor them as a unique and powerful grassroots organizations, with an incomparable record of risk-taking.