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 appropriately."

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 wholly un-American.

"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.

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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 future.

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 everyone.

The Poet Emma Lazarus called the Statue of Liberty, "The Mother of Exiles," a mother who embraced immigrants with open arms and unconditional love.

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 forget-but shouldn't.

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 profiling.

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 such humiliation:

"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 it does.

Racial profiling is the cancer of intolerance and stereotyping. Untreated, it spreads and it suffocates.

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 War II?

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 questioned.

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 Affirmative Action

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 American Governor.

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 today.

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 than that.

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 chance.

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 promise.

Thank you.

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Press Release (12-15-2008)

Columbus, Ohio – The Organization of Chinese Americans Columbus Chapter (OCACC) is working together with the Chinese American Association of Central Ohio (CAACO) to host a Chinese New Year extravaganza on January 17, 2009 at the Asian Cuisine, 8008 N. High Street in Columbus, Ohio. The celebration of the coming of the Year of Ox will start at 6:30 PM and feature dinner and folk art performances for 300 attendees before the dawn of the New Year beginning on January 26, 2009.

The Year of Ox holds a very special meaning for the Chinese worldwide. The Ox symbolizes hard work and dedication, representing in many ways the character of Chinese. It’s strong personality promises all possibilities and dreams. It’s humbling gesture is a sign of harmony and peace. We welcome all people in our community to come and celebrate with us for this very special occasion.

For more details about this celebration, please contact CAACO, PO Box 21144, Columbus, Ohio 43221 or OCACC, PO Box 20623, Columbus, Ohio 43220.

The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans in the United States. It works to embrace the hope and aspiration for all Asian Pacific Americans in the nation. The OCA Columbus Chapter is one of the organization's over 80 chapters.

Chinese American Association of Central Ohio (CAACO), founded in 1983, is a nonprofit organization dedicated in promoting ethnic harmony through education, economic, social and legal endeavors. As one of the 15-member Asian Festival Corp core group, we have brought in, directly from China, herbal/medicinal plants from two leading traditional pharmaceutical college and university showcasing our medical heritage in area of health care. And part of the 96 jars of immersed plants will be exhibited at the OSU Prior Health Sciences Library in the spring. In introduction of our cultural achievement in diversity, a group of Mongolian singers was invited from China taking part at the 2008 Asian Festival.

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