Niou Describes Personal Response to Wave of Anti-Asian Violence
New York State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou: “I’m so tired of begging for people to see us as human beings.”
At a rally held in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, a phalanx of public officials decried the recent spate of hate crimes that have targeted Asian-Americans. The rally was spurred, in part by the murders of eight people at three massage parlors in the area of Atlanta, Georgia last Tuesday, six of whom were Asian women. But it also drew impetus from a recent series of violent (but less lethal) hate crimes in Lower Manhattan and around the City.
The event was organized by Jenny Low, a Lower Manhattan elected District Leader, and a candidate for City Council, who recalled the history of anti-Asian bigotry and violence in America, “from the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Japanese internment camps during World War Two, to the burning of Chinatowns, up to the lives lost in Georgia.” She added that, “Asian men and women walk around with targets on their backs. We are part of this country. We are immigrants who helped build this country. And unless you are Native American, you are descended from immigrants, too.”
Ms. Low invited State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou to speak. She began, “those women in Georgia who died looked like me, my mom, my aunts, my sister, my niece. They looked like us.”
“I’m so tired of begging for people to see us as human beings,” she continued. “My mom was a night-shift nurse—somebody who took care of other people. The federal government didn’t help us, and neither did the state or city government. We were part of a community where neighbors helped each other.”
“Here in my district,” she continued, “just today, another Asian-American elderly gentleman was attacked, 65 years old, another hate crime.” This appears to have been a reference to a Saturday incident at the corner of Houston and Allen Streets, in which an Asian man was beaten while parking his car. This followed a Friday attack in Tribeca, on the No. 1 train (as it pulled into Franklin Street station), in which a rider confronted a 68-year-old passenger and called him a “mother-fucking Asian,” before beating him into critical condition. On February 26, another Asian man was approached from behind by a stranger at the corner of Worth and Baxter streets, where he was stabbed multiple times without warning. In each of these incidents, there was no obvious traditional criminal motive, such as robbery, which raises the possibility that race hatred may have been factor in the attack.
According to the New York Police Department, there have been at least 28 incidents of hate crimes against Asians in New York City since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At least some of these appear to have been inspired by the false narrative that the ongoing pandemic was caused by China.
“I was told that I eat bats,” Ms. Niou continued, in a reference to the possibility (being investigated by medical researchers) that the flying mammals are a vector for the coronavirus. “People thought that was okay, to call the only Asian-American woman state legislator and say that. I was also told that I should get my wok and fry up a cat and a dog. Somebody else thought that was okay.”
“You know what broke my heart the most?” she continued, visibly moved. “Listening to the recordings of those 911 calls in Georgia, where the operators couldn’t understand the people pleading for help. This hurt me, because that’s how my mom talks. That’s how we sound.”
She recalled her own childhood, saying, “every time we moved, my mom was given the night shift as a nurse. That’s how my mom made sure we had everything we needed.”
“I can’t help thinking that these women were somebody’s mother, somebody’s sister, somebody’s daughter,” Ms. Niou reflected, beginning to weep, in a strikingly personal display of raw vulnerability from a public official. “Working to bring home money so they could give opportunity to somebody they loved.”
“Asian women’s bodies are objectified, so that violence can be perpetrated against us,” she continued. “We are fetishized and sexualized to hurt us. Because the more they can see us as objects, that’s more reason why they think they can hurt us.”
“Anti-Asian racism isn’t new,” Ms. Niou added. “It is state-sanctioned. All racism is state-sanctioned. This country was built on our blood. On the backs of immigrants. On the blood, sweat, and tears of immigrants.”
“The system is not ‘broken,’” she said, invoking a widely circulated trope. “The system does not need to be ‘fixed.’ It was built this way. It was designed this way. It was intended to hurt particular people, while helping other very specific groups of people get away with this. This is a system we need to dismantle. This is a system we need to remake it in our image, so it can work for all of us.”
“I don’t think that a bigger police budget is going to help us,” Ms. Niou noted. “I don’t think that anything that perpetuates this system is going to help us. Instead, look at the system. Ask why there are only two Asian-Americans in the higher ranks of Police Department. Look at who is at the table at every single agency. Why is there no language access?”
“One in four Asians in New York City lives in poverty,” she observed. “That makes us the most impoverished group in all of New York State. But we get the least in social benefits. When I went to Albany, we didn’t have a single line item for Asian communities in the state budget. We now have $300,000, which is supposed to be a start. But the State’s budget is $174 billion.”
“I am never going to accept that this is okay,” she concluded. “We deserve to exist. We deserve to be here. We deserve to be heard. We don’t need to ask for permission.”
Eyes to the Sky
March 22 – April 4, 2021
Turn-of-the-season dazzle: brightest stars, vivid constellations, and rusty-gold Mars
The calendar in the night sky marks Spring Equinox evenings with the rising of golden Arcturus, the second brightest star in our sky. Sunset is at 7:11 this evening and about a minute later each day going forward.
As twilight deepens, about an hour after sunset, gold-to-red twinkling Arcturus climbs above the northeastern horizon. The great star, -0.05 magnitude, appears later over obstructed views. To be sure to locate Arcturus at any time of night, follow the diagram at the top of this page. On spring evenings, the Big Dipper can be found high in the sky from the northeast to southeast. Trace the arc of its handle down to “arc to Arcturus”.
Study the illustration, below, as a guide to brilliant stars and vivid, readable star patterns. They are the most iconic of both winter and spring and characterize the turn-of-the-season night sky. Enjoy winter constellations in the southwest to west from an hour after sunset until about 11pm. Rusty-gold Mars is up until after midnight.
March 28 at 9 p.m. Image: Judy Isacoff / Starry Night
On Sunday, March 28, the Full Sap Moon rises due east at 7:19pm opposite sunset due west at 7:17pm. For early risers, Arcturus and the Big Dipper are visible low in the west to northwest in morning twilight.
Alliance For Downtown New York Hosts 2021 Shred-A-Thon
And Clothing Drop-Off
After a year like the one we all just endured and the promise of a brighter day emerging, the idea of “spring cleaning” takes on new energy and meaning.
Now is the time to round up all the old clothes and unwanted documents that have been piling up and bring them over to Fulton Street (between Cliff and Gold Streets) for the Downtown Alliance’s annual dual shred-a-thon and clothing drop-off Saturday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
A shredding truck parked on Fulton Street will securely dispose of and recycle all your sensitive documents, tax receipts, junk mail and old bills.
The Alliance is also partnering with NYC clothing recycler Wearable Collections, which is providing a bin to collect all dry, used clean clothing including shoes, sneakers, belts and hats, as well as household items such as linens, towels and handbags.
Rain or shine, the Alliance will be there to dispose of your much-loved old outfits and no-longer-needed memories, minus a few items (e.g., carpeting, rugs, bath mats, comforters, pillows, large luggage). This spring will be even sweeter when you’ve got some extra space.
Lost in The Desert Sky: Kayhan Kalhor in Memory of Mohammad Reza Shajarian was filmed in the spectacular Mahinistan Palace in Kashan, Iran and features all new music by Kayhan Kalhor performed by his ensemble and introducing vocalist Hadi Hosseini. Experience this one-of-a-kind filmed concert honoring the legacy of one of Iran’s greatest vocalists Mohammad Reza Shajarian (1940-2020). Brookfield Place is presenting this performance on BFPLNY.com in celebration of Norooz (Persian New Year) to viewers in New York or New Jersey. Free
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
New Hub for Families in Tribeca Offers Music, Dance, Parkour, and More
Tribeca has a new place for kids to play, parents to work, and families to bond. Cocoon, located at 316 Greenwich Street, at the base of Independence Plaza (in the space once occupied by Food Emporium) is an 18,000-square-foot facility, spread across two levels, that includes a 2,000-square-foot outdoor, private patio.
Another FiDi Renter Seeks Recompense for Years of Rent Overcharges
The wave of Financial District tenants going to court to demand restitution from years of illegally high rent gathered further momentum on Tuesday, when another tenant at 50 Murray Street filed court papers arguing that she is entitled to rent stabilization protection along with reimbursement for six years worth of overcharges, and triple damages.
Heather Horn moved into 50 Murray Street in May, 2014, at an initial rent of $4,695 per month. Since then, according the documents filed with the new York State Supreme Court, she has renewed her lease six times, and her rent has increased by almost 26 percent, to $5,900.
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
238 – Gordian I and his son Gordian II are proclaimed Roman emperors.
1622 – Jamestown massacre: Algonquians kill 347 English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia, a third of the colony’s population, during the Second Anglo-Powhatan War.
1630 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony outlaws the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables.
1638 – Anne Hutchinson is expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent.
1713 – The Tuscarora War comes to an end with the fall of Fort Neoheroka, effectively opening up the interior of North Carolina to European colonization. When Europeans arrived in the area known today as North Carolina in 1653, the Tuscarora, the native Americans generally co-existed in peace with them. However this lasted only about 50 years before the Europeans increasingly encroached upon their lands, raided their villages to take slaves and introduced epidemic diseases that brought about their defeat. After this, a large majority of the Tusarora migrated north to join the Iroquois and they became accepted as the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy
1765 – The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies.
1829 – In the London Protocol, the three protecting powers (United Kingdom, France and Russia) establish the borders of Greece.
1945 – The Arab League is founded when a charter is adopted in Cairo, Egypt.
1960 – Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes receive the first patent for a laser
1982 – NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia is launched from the Kennedy Space Center on its third mission, STS-3.
1992 – USAir Flight 405 crashes shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, leading to a number of studies into the effect that ice has on aircraft.
1993 – The Intel Corporation ships the first Pentium chips (80586), featuring a 60 MHz clock speed, 100+ MIPS, and a 64 bit data path.
2017 – A terrorist attack in London near the Houses of Parliament leaves four people dead and at least 20 injured.
1394 – Ulugh Beg, Persian astronomer and mathematician (d. 1449)
1459 – Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 1519)
1785 – Adam Sedgwick, English scientist (d. 1873)
1923 – Marcel Marceau, French mime and actor (d. 2007)
1924 – Al Neuharth, American journalist and author, founded USA Today (d. 2013)
1924 – Yevgeny Ostashev, participant in the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite, Lenin prize winner, Candidate of Technical Sciences (d. 1960)
1930 – Stephen Sondheim, American composer and songwriter
1948 – Wolf Blitzer, American journalist
1948 – Andrew Lloyd Webber, English composer and director
1454 – John Kemp, Archbishop of Canterbury
1687 – Jean-Baptiste Lully, Italian-French composer and conductor (b. 1632)
1974 – Peter Revson, American race car driver (b. 1939)
2001 – William Hanna, American animator, director, producer, and voice actor, co-founded Hanna-Barbera (b. 1910)