I want to take a moment to extend an overdue acknowledgment of Lunar New Year and encourage you to join the celebration this Friday, February 26 at 1PM.
Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar and its overarching themes of fortune, happiness, and health are particularly welcome given all that we experienced locally and globally in 2020. As an organization that is committed to implementing and elevating the values and principles of self-reliance and dignity across generations, it important for us to celebrate the extraordinary diversity and traditions that enrich us and give us strength.
This is the year of the (Metal) Ox, the second sign in the Chinese zodiac – a year described by one astrological source as a time “when we will fully feel the weight of our responsibilities, a year when it is necessary to work twice as hard to accomplish anything at all.” Facing unimaginable challenges, and carrying anxieties and heartache, it can be hard to imagine that we have the strength to carry on and that we have the capacity to give more – but this can be a year when our dedication and endurance are rewarded. Through perseverance and persistence, we can realize each of the dreams that we have and make the year ahead better for each of us. This starts with being relentless in our efforts to confront and dismantle racism and to combat and defeat xenophobia. These are urgent matters because our battered City and our ‘too often divided’ country – are experiencing a surge in anti-Asian hate and violence including vicious attacks on elders. A recent report from The Asian American Bar Association notes that there have been more than 2,500 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents related to COVID-19 between March and September 2020 – and “this number understates the actual number of anti-Asian hate incidents because most incidents are not reported.”
Our elected officials have taken actions to respond to this growing crisis: President Biden released a memo condemning racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States while acknowledging the role that our federal government has played in furthering these sentiments in recent years. New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched a hotline to report hate crimes and other forms of bias. The de Blasio administration has committed to increasing police patrols and investigations. While there is no shortage of steps that have been and will be taken by our representatives to protect our neighbors and rebuild the systems that have failed so many during the pandemic, the truest difference is made when we, as individual New Yorkers, take it as our individual and personal responsibility to stand up and speak out, to raise awareness and demand action when any person or group of people in our community are threatened, harmed, or in need.
I am very grateful to stand with you in opposition to hate. I am very proud to stand together in service.
Peace and prosperity.