OCA CONDEMNS ACTS OF TERRORISM
Washington, DC - The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA)
expresses its heartfelt condolences and support for the victims of
the reprehensible events that took place on September 11, and our
thoughts and prayers are with them and their family and friends.
OCA offers its support to those who lost loved ones in this tragedy
and to those working to search and rescue victims in the aftermath.
OCA also angrily condemns the cowardly terrorists responsible for
these abominable acts.
"The disgusting acts of these terrorists have changed America
forever," stated George M. Ong, OCA National President. "OCA,
as well as the entire Asian Pacific American community, is deeply
distressed over the countless lives lost. We pledge our full
support to President Bush to address this matter swiftly and
OCA reiterates our resolve to stand with all Americans and fight
any foreign government or entity's attack against our country and
government. We encourage OCA members and the Asian Pacific
American community to give blood, volunteer for rescue efforts,
donate food to rescue workers, and help all Americans get through
this difficult time.
It is also important in this tragic period in our history to remember
that all Americans were the intended targets of these heinous acts.
There have already been reports of Americans assaulting and
harassing fellow Americans in the wake of Tuesday's horrific events.
As Americans who believe in justice and freedom, we must not
allow the lives of Arab Americans and South Asian Americans -
who are often mistaken for Middle Eastern - to come into jeopardy
because of racial, religious, or ethnic prejudice. To attack innocent
people because of the way they look or where they worship is
"We must not allow our country to disintegrate because of these
attacks," said Christine Chen, OCA Executive Director. "OCA
pleads with Americans to stay level headed and not act on
irrational impulses based on discrimination. These terrorist
attacks were an assault on our ideals of freedom and democracy
as Americans; when innocent Americans are assaulted because
they happen to look a certain way or speak a certain language,
the very freedom and democracy that was attacked this week
begins to disintegrate."
OCA - in cooperation with other nonprofit groups - hopes to
collect data on the number of hate crimes and incidents that
have taken place as a result of the terrorist attack on Tuesday.
OCA urges anybody with information about such events to
forward the information on to the OCA National Office at
202-223-5500 or email@example.com.
Keynote Remarks - Governor Gary Locke
-- at OCA National Convention Gala Banquet --
Thank you for that kind introduction.
Mona and I want to welcome the 23rd Annual Convention
of the Organization of Chinese Americans to our great
state of Washington.
We're delighted to be here today, among so many
friends and colleagues who've tread a common ground,
shared a common ancestry, and labored for a common
OCA has been an important national leader not just
promoting and advancing civil rights not just for
Chinese Americans, but for ALL Asian/Pacific Islanders.
There's political power in numbers, and today in
America we have nearly two million citizens or
residents of Chinese ancestry as well as ten million
Asian/Pacific Islanders. That's power! And that's
a voice that won't be silenced.
OCA's theme of "Continuing Our Odyssey for Full
Equality" resonates: For me, the operative word is
"continuing:" Continuing to be vigilant; and
continuing to secure social justice and equal
opportunity for Asian Americans and ALL Americans.
Because when it comes to civil rights, when it
comes to social justice, our greatest enemy is
complacency. We can't let up unless we want to
surrender the cause of equality, fairness, and
human dignity in our country. OCA won't let that
happen; and those of us here tonight won't let
that happen--not today, not tomorrow, never!
Part I: Setbacks on the Odyssey: Racial Profiling
and Wen Ho Lee
The American dream has been -- and still is --
the dream of freedom, hope, and opportunity for
The Poet Emma Lazarus called the Statue of
Liberty, "The Mother of Exiles," a mother who
embraced immigrants with open arms and
Asian-Americans have also made incredible
progress and overcome so much.
Just within the last 100 years, our parents and
grandparents have experienced the Alien Land Laws
and a range of government actions designed to
exclude Asian Americans of property, citizenship,
and ultimately, their dignity. With each wave of
Asian immigration came a tide of anti-Asian laws.
Laws that, with the passage of time, we often
But our progress towards equality has been
cyclical: A period of great change and advancement
often followed by a period of backsliding.
We would like to think that eventually, our
society will advance beyond this cyclical
pattern of two steps forward, and one step back.
It would be terrific to believe we've reached
that point of permanent progress and equality --
but in our hearts, we know we're not there yet.
In fact, recent events whipsaw us back to
earlier, darker times. Just a few weeks ago
in Seattle a group of Asian-American teenagers
came face-to-face with the scourge of racial
These young people were allegedly targeted by
a couple of Seattle police officers because
they are Asian-American.
For 45 minutes these young people were grilled
and harangued for "jaywalking." They were
lined up against a wall and interrogated.
They were asked those questions that we pray
our children never hear, those indignities
that our parents and our grandparents suffered
through with the hope that we would never bear
"Do you speak English?" a police officer asked,
applying condescension and words as weapons.
All ethnic cultures in America share a common
expectation: That life will be better for
their children and their grandchildren.
Let's uphold that calling and let's uphold
the freedom and promise of America by
resolving to end racial profiling now!
That's not a political slogan, but a pledge.
Here in Washington State, I directed our
Washington State Patrol to monitor traffic
stops to make sure we are not engaged in
racial profiling. Beginning in October of
1999, all officers record race, gender, age,
and ethnicity when they pull over motorists.
Will that halt all racial profiling? No.
But does that provide both a public record
and a disincentive for profiling? You bet
Racial profiling is the cancer of intolerance
and stereotyping. Untreated, it spreads and
In many ways the tragedy of Wen Ho Lee is a
case of racial profiling. Wen Ho Lee was
falsely branded as a traitor and the greatest
threat to national security, simply because
of his race.
Here is a man divested of his dignity,
chained and shackled alone in a prison cell
for over a year-a sixty-year old man in a
prison cell that he occupied by himself, as
though he might make a break for it!
The FBI was so overzealous and so violated
his rights that a judge and the President
had to apologize.
The Wen Ho Lee case has had a chilling
effect not just on Asian-Americans who
planned to serve their country -in
Government labs as foreign-service officers,
but in the private sector as well-at the
highest levels of top corporations and at
public colleges and Universities. That
chill still lingers and it still stings.
Somehow our race signals danger to many-
that we're lesser than, that we're disloyal,
that we're not authentic Americans.
In fact, a recent poll commissioned by the
Committee of 100 shows that one out of
every four Americans holds negative views
towards Chinese-Americans. One third
believe Chinese-Americans are more loyal
to China than to the United States!
Has our country NOT learned the lessons from the Japanese internment during World
Just think about the climate of hysteria:
Anytime there's a terrorist attack in the
Middle East, Americans of Arab and Islamic
descent are interrogated and their loyalty
How backward, how wrong, and how Un-
American is that?
After the campaign finance scandals of 1996,
any donor with an Asian surname was
suspected of financial impropriety or
electoral wrongdoing. Again I ask you: has
our country NOT learned the lessons from
the Japanese internment during World War II?
Part II: Our Heritage and the Importance of
My grandfather came to America more than a
hundred years ago, and settled in Olympia,
where he worked as a houseboy for a family
in exchange for English lessons.
Now I live in the Governor's Mansion --
just one mile from where my grandfather
lived. Our family jokes that it took one
hundred years to travel one mile.
The Locke clan has come a long, long way-
but so has our state.
I'm very proud that in a state that is
less than 10 percent minority, I was
elected our country's first Chinese
My family's history and your family
histories include a litany of
discrimination and hardship. We have
made progress because our communities
believe in the dream that drew our
ancestors to this country - the dream
of freedom, hope, and opportunity.
Indeed, Asian Americans have made a
tremendous difference in the progress of
America. Over the past 150 years, Asian
Americans have given their blood, sweat,
toil, and tears to create the America of
Our parents and grandparents helped
build our railroads and our cities.
They worked in the mines, they fished
the oceans, they farmed the land, and
they served with honor and distinction
in the armed forces to defend our freedom.
Asian-Americans have surely earned the
right to participate in this country's
politics, to share in this country's
prosperity, and to realize the American
promise of freedom and equality.
It's up to us to keep the American
promise true for the next generation,
and to exercise our rights in order to
protect, strengthen, and extend them in
the century ahead.
But we have to be to remain vigilant,
ever mindful of OCA's theme of continuing
the odyssey for full equality.
Affirmative Action is one of those issues
that compel our vigilance.
Affirmative action is NOT about quotas.
It's NOT about hiring or admitting to
colleges and universities unqualified
individuals. It's really much simpler
It's about "who you know."
If the majority in the boardrooms of
corporate America is white male, then the
who-you-know network of job connections
will work for mostly white males.
That's why it makes sense to reach beyond
the network of white-male friends and
friends of friends.
That's why people who are hiring need to
act affirmatively to bring women and people
of color into the mainstream network.
I believe in affirmative action because
I'm a product of affirmative action.
On test scores alone, I probably would not
have been admitted to Yale University.
But Yale had an affirmative action program
for minorities, public school students, and
students from the West Coast.
Yale took a hard look at me and gave me a
I still had to pass the same exams and
write the same papers as anyone else.
And I can proudly say that I ended up
doing well at Yale.
But efforts to diversify the boardroom or
the classroom or just to ensure a seat at
the table are being attacked.
That's wrong, and frankly, that's un-American.
We've seen the results of the anti-
affirmative-action forces. Proposition 209
in California and Initiative 200 here in
Washington. These efforts will not lessen.
They will only intensify as our nation
grows more diverse and multicultural.
We've seen it before in the history of the
United States: Angry fists against a
progressive wave of equality and diversity.
I say this: When confronted with attempts
to rollback the tide of progress, let us
recall the history and legacy of America-
that we are a country of immigrants. That
America has affirmatively extended a
welcoming hand to people of all backgrounds,
cultures, and nations.
That's the American dream and the American
story. That's the message of the Statue of
Liberty, affirmatively welcoming ALL
immigrants to our shores.
Affirmative Action is as American as the
Statue of Liberty.
Thank you to OCA for all you do to tell the
real story of America and hold her to her