Dear AALJ Alumni,
With Gina Szeto, the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of the Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley Law, I have the privilege to ask you to support the journal as we prepare to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Before speaking to our request, I wanted to spend a little time discussing the importance of Asian American jurisprudence, even four years after we elected an African-American president, born in Hawaii and raised in Indonesia.
Last week, we remembered the 30th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s death. Chin was at a strip club for his bachelor party when he was accosted by two white men–a Chrysler executive and his step-son. They held Chin personally responsible for loss of jobs in the U.S. auto industry to Japan, declaring that "It's because of you little motherfuckers that we're out of work.” The men then followed him out of the club and spent 20 to 30 minutes finding him before repeatedly bludgeoning Chin with a baseball bat. The price for taking Chin's life? No Jail time. Three years of probation. And less than $4000 in fines.
I do not speak to the men’s light sentences to suggest that harsh imprisonment is the appropriate response to hate crimes. However, prison sentences do speak to what we as a country value–which bodies are deserving of punishment and which are deserving of death. Notably, in explaining the light sentence, the judge in Chin's case stated that “these weren’t the kind of men you send to jail … You don’t make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal.” The race and class implications in his explanation are clear.
I comment on these events to urge you to support the journal and to defend it against ever increasing charges that it is no longer relevant in what has been mistakenly called a post-racial era. Much has changed in the three decades since Chin’s passing. As the anti-Asian rant at UCLA; the recent suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen; and the enduring racial profiling that has followed the South Asian community post 9/11 reveal, many of the underlying sentiments which allowed Chin's death to occur remain. UC Hastings Dean Frank Wu declared that Chin’s death showed us the power of “You all look the same.” It also reminded us of that, as Asian Americans, the extent to which we are accepted in America is strongly linked to the U.S.'s relationship with Asia in the particular moment
As a subset of Asian Americans who have the privilege of entering the legal profession, we have an obligation to speak in support of those in our community who, because of class, gender, immigration status or sexual orientation, will not have a platform to raise those concerns. We have an equal obligation to draw upon our collective experience of Chinese exclusion, Japanese internment and South Asian racial profiling to build coalitions and speak in support of less popular communities in the present. A powerful example which needs no explanation. When the late Fred Korematsu filed an amicus brief which asked the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of prolonged executive detentions in the “war on terror.”
This finally leads me to my request. Unfortunately, severe state budget cuts have made it increasingly difficult for law journals like AALJ to continue carrying out these purposes. As a result, AALJ relies on the generosity of donors like you to support our publication and events.
We have some exciting events and activities planned for next year. In addition to our annual Neil Gotanda Lecture and symposium, we will be bringing attorneys and community organizers from some of the leading Asian American civil rights and community based organizations to Boalt to speak about their work. We are in talks to become a lead publisher for the Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty, held at UC Hastings this year and are attempting to match attorney mentors with student mentees. Sign up to mentor here. You can also find attached a list of our recent accomplishments.
Please join us in supporting AALJ to facilitate our journal's mission. Help us continue to be a forum for a growing body of work that advances often-silenced voices of underrepresented communities. Your gift will make a significant impact on AALJ, which is an influential part of the law school experience for us and many Asian-American students at Boalt.
If you wish to make a donation, GIVE HERE and please specify that your gift should be directed to the "Asian American Law Journal at Berkeley Law." You can also find subscription information on our website: www.boalt.org/aalj, send article submissions to email@example.com and keep up with the latest news about the journal at: https://www.facebook.com/BoaltAALJ. I will be in touch with 20th anniversary celebrations in the upcoming weeks.
We thank you in advance for your support.
Editor in Chief, 2012-2013
Editor in Chief, 2011-2012