News & Updates

  • Robinson: Film highlights the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Silicon Valley

    Posted by · March 24, 2022 8:20 AM

    If you went back to 1978 and said gay people would be able to get married, there would be openly gay elected officials or that gay and transgender people would serve as cabinet members in the United States of America, nobody would have believed it. In fact, many states still outlawed the private lives of individuals in our nation.

    But today, most people rarely arch an eyebrow at the idea of a free and equal LGBTQ+ community. In historical terms, the change has been meteoric.

    Now, a film specifically about the history of the LGBTQ+ community is playing on Comcast and may soon appear elsewhere around the nation.

    “Queer Silicon Valley” premiered on Feb. 25 at the Hammer Theatre Center in downtown San Jose. Produced and directed by former Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, the film chronicles the rise of the LGBTQ+ community and its fight for equality in our valley.

    From gay bars to drag queen contests, through the AIDS pandemic to parades and real political and economic power. The fight for equality was never easy.

    There are many heroes in the movie, but the work of the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC), the political organization created by Wiggsy Sivertsen and Yeager, takes on tremendous significance. A single politician showed up to the group’s first fundraiser—former Councilmember Iola Williams. Today, an endorsement by BAYMEC is a heavily sought and actively promoted symbol of pride for all those seeking elected office.

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  • Yale sociologist Phil Gorski on the threat of white Christian nationalism

    Posted by · March 21, 2022 8:25 AM

    Yale - The January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a hodgepodge of conflicting symbols.

    The protestors erected a large wooden cross and gallows. Some waved Rebel battle flags; others the Stars and Stripes. Some carried signs declaring that “Jesus Saves” while others wore sweatshirts bearing white supremacist slogans. The men who invaded the Senate chamber — some clad in body armor, one wearing a horned headdress — invoked Christ’s name as they bowed heads and prayed.

    To many, the clashing imagery was one of many bewildering and unsettling aspects of that chaotic day. To Yale sociologist Philip Gorski, the scene was instantly recognizable as an extreme form of white Christian nationalism.

    The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy (Oxford University Press),” a new book Gorski coauthored with sociologist Samuel L. Perry of the University of Oklahoma, is a primer that relies on historical sources and survey data to explain the ideology, trace its origins and history, and describe the threat it poses to the United States.

    Gorski, professor of sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, recently spoke with Yale News about the roots of today’s white Christian nationalism and the threat it poses to democracy. The interview has been edited and condensed.

    What is white Christian nationalism?

    Philip Gorski: First, it is an ideology based on a story about America that’s developed over three centuries. It reveres the myth that the country was founded as a Christian nation by white Christians and that its laws and institutions are based on Protestant Christianity. White Christian nationalists believe that the country is divinely favored and has been given the mission to spread religion, freedom, and civilization. They see this mission and the values they cherish as under threat from the growing presence of non-whites, non-Christians, and immigrants in the United States. This is one point at which white Christian nationalism overlaps with the Make America Great American narrative. It’s the view that somebody has corrupted the country or is trying to take it away. White Christian nationalists want to take it back.

     Where are the roots of today’s white Christian nationalism?

    Gorski: By digging into the historical source materials, you can see this perspective taking shape in the 1690s, which is the title of one of the book’s chapters. In a way, you can trace it back even further, because this idea of a white Christian nation does have roots in a certain understanding of the Bible that weaves three old stories into a new story.

    One is this idea of a Promised Land. God bestows a Promised Land on the Israelites. They go to that land and find the Amalekites inhabiting it. They conquered the land. This is how a lot of the early settlers of New England, many of them Puritan, understood their situation. Quite literally, they saw themselves, like the Israelites, as a chosen people. North America was the new Promised Land. The Native Americans were the new Amalekites and the Puritans felt entitled to take their land.

    Another strand is the End Times story, which today is viewed as the Second Coming of Jesus in the most literal sense. It’s a belief that Jesus is going to come down to Earth for a final showdown between good and evil. And the Christians in America will be on the side of good.

    These two stories describe the “Christian nationalism” in white Christian nationalism. Whiteness came into play when some white Americans tried to develop a justification for slavery. The traditional justification for slavery, theologically speaking, had been that heathens and captives of war could be enslaved. Initially, this is how slavery in America was justified, but a couple of generations later, the justification didn’t really work. You can’t argue that a young boy of African descent born in the Virginia Colony in 1690 was a captive of war. His mother might have converted to Christianity, in which case he’s not a “heathen.” A new justification had to be embedded in the culture, which gave rise to the notorious idea of the curse of Ham. Because Ham had seen his father Noah drunk and naked, God placed a mark on Ham’s son Canaan and condemned his offspring to slavery. Christians used this to justify enslaving people of African descent.

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  • NYC man charged with hate crimes in attacks on 7 Asian women

    Posted by · March 17, 2022 8:32 AM

    A 28-year-old homeless man has been charged with hate crimes after a string of unprovoked attacks on women of Asian descent in New York City, police said.

    Steven Zajonc was arrested Wednesday in connection with assaults on seven women in different Manhattan neighborhoods over a two-hour period on Sunday.

    The victims were all women of Asian descent ranging in age from 19 to 57, police said. Most were punched in the face; one was shoved to the ground. Two were treated at hospitals.

    Zajonc was arrested on seven counts each of assault as a hate crime, attempted assault as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and harassment. It wasn't clear whether he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

    Zajonc was apprehended at a midtown Manhattan library after two library guards recognized him from surveillance videos of the crime scenes and alerted police, officials with the New York Public Library said.

    According to an NYPL news release, Roshanta Williams, a guard at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation library branch, alerted senior guard Elmirel Cephas on Wednesday that a regular patron of the library looked like the suspect police were seeking.

    Cephas later spotted Zajonc walking into the library and called 911, the library officials said. Zajonc locked himself in a single-stall bathroom, and the guards monitored the area until police arrived, the officials said.

    Library officials said Zajonc, who used a Manhattan drop-in center as his address, had often locked himself in the bathroom in the past.

    “Our guards have the extremely challenging job, especially under recent circumstances, of keeping our branches safe and welcoming for all New Yorkers,” Iris Weinshall, the NYPL’s chief operating officer, said. “They do this extremely well every day, but today went above and beyond to help the NYPD keep our streets safer.”

    The attacks Sunday were part of an alarming pattern of violence directed at people of Asian descent in New York, including the killings of Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed to death in her apartment last month, and Michelle Alyssa Go, who was shoved in front of a subway train in Times Square in January. Neither Lee's nor Go's killing has been ruled a hate crime at this time.

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  • A year after Atlanta spa shootings, misogynistic racism still endangers Asian American women

    Posted by · March 14, 2022 10:25 AM

    by Sung Yeon Choimorrow

    Atlanta - Winter was heaving its last gasps that day. The air in Chicago hovered just above freezing as my family and I finished dinner. We had just put my daughter to bed when I saw a text from a friend with a news headline and a question: “Have you seen this?”

    I read as far as eight shooting victims before my eyes darted to the photo underneath: Sullen police officers and bright yellow tape surrounding the neon lights of Gold Spa. Immediately, I knew: An evening of quiet had turned into a day of infamy.

    A shooter in Atlanta had gone on a rampage at three massage parlors. One year ago this week, he murdered eight people – six of them Asian American women from China and Korea.

    As the head of a national organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls, I knew my colleagues and I had to act. Immediately, I went back and forth with our staff, especially those in Atlanta, to understand what our members needed. At the same time, we had to speak up for our community, so we released a statement. Before I knew it, I was caught in a whirlwind of media requests and coverage, giving more than 50 interviews in just four days.

    All the while, I dealt with the same conflux of emotions as millions of Asian American women. Rage and guilt. Grief and revulsion. Devastation for our community.

    We have been objectified for centuries

    American culture has hypersexualized and objectified Asian women as long as we’ve lived here.

    Afong Moy, the first recorded Chinese woman brought to the United States, was placed on exotic display. Our nation's first immigration law, the Page Act of 1875, stereotyped East Asian women as prostitutes to bar them from the country. The U.S. military involvement in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War exacerbated this prejudice, forcing many Asian women into sex work and perpetuating the racist, sexist mythos that Asian women are temptresses or sexual servants in the American consciousness.

    This sordid history has imposed upon Asian American women a dangerous present.

    Our organization just finished a first-of-its-kind survey of Asian American and Pacific Islander women’s safety. The results were damning: 74% of AAPI women say they experienced racism or discrimination in the previous 12 months. More than half identify a stranger as the perpetrator, and 47% report experiencing racism and discrimination in public space.

    We live at the intersection of racism and misogyny

    Asian American women are not just reviled for our race or for our gender. We are vilified for both – for the ways our race and gender intertwine and strengthen us.

    Yet in almost every interview I did after the Atlanta spa shootings, pundits and journalists were shocked when I highlighted the intersection of racism and misogyny. With the exception of Asian American women and some other female journalists, most reporters elided the fact that the intended targets weren’t just Asian people who happened to be women, or women who happened to be Asian: They were both.

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  • U.S. White Supremacist Propaganda Remained at Historic Levels in 2021, With 27 Percent Rise in Antisemitic Messaging

    Posted by · March 07, 2022 8:32 AM

    ADL - White supremacist propaganda, which allows extremist groups to disseminate hateful messages and gain attention with little risk of public exposure, has been on the rise for several years. In 2021, the overall numbers were down slightly, but paired with a 27 percent increase in antisemitic content and messaging.

    Since 2017, the ADL Center on Extremism has closely tracked white supremacist propaganda incidents including the use of racist and antisemitic fliers, stickers, banners and posters, as well as the use of stenciled graffiti.

    Propaganda campaigns let white supremacists maximize media and online attention while limiting the risk of individual exposure, negative media coverage, arrests and public backlash that often accompanies more public activities. By using propaganda to spread hate, a small number of people can have an outsized impact, giving the appearance of larger numbers and affecting entire communities.

    While propaganda numbers remain historically high, the 2021 data shows a five percent drop in incidents from the previous year, with a total of 4,851 cases reported, compared to 5,125 in 2020. Year over year, the number of propaganda incidents on college campuses dropped 23 percent, from 303 to 232, the lowest since ADL began tracking incidents in 2017.

    Despite the drop in overall incidents, 2021 saw a 27 percent increase of antisemitic propaganda distributions, rising from 277 incidents in 2020 to 352 incidents in 2021.

    The high number of antisemitic propaganda incidents have continued in 2022. In January and February, the virulently antisemitic Goyim Defense League dropped antisemitic leaflets on college campuses and across entire neighborhoods, with dozens of incidents reported in at least 15 states.

    In January-December 2021, propaganda was reported  in every state except Hawaii, with the highest levels of activity (from most to least active) in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and New York. ADL’s H.E.A.T. Map provides a visual representation of the propaganda efforts by geographic location and can be used to track other specific trends.

    In 2021, white supremacists used propaganda to spread hate, promote themselves, attack their perceived enemies and present themselves as victims of an “anti-white” society. In some cases, they used current events to legitimize their hateful views. Shortly after the insurrection against the U.S. Capitol, white supremacists created propaganda pieces presenting January 6 insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt as a martyr for their cause. Similarly, they threw their support behind Kyle Rittenhouse, creating propaganda claiming “Kyle was right.” And, in the wake of the deadly holiday parade attack in Waukesha, Wisconsin, white supremacists leveraged the tragedy by sowing racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories on the ground and online.

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  • Asian woman attacked last year in New York by man with rock has died, family says

    Posted by · March 01, 2022 11:44 AM

    CNN - The Asian woman who was attacked last year in Queens by a man with a rock died Monday, her family announced on a GoFundMe page dedicated to her.

    In November, GuiYing Ma, 61, was sweeping the sidewalk of an empty property in Jackson Heights when a man allegedly struck her in the head repeatedly with a large rock, injuring her face and head, police said at the time.
    A day after the attack, the New York Police Department arrested a 33-year-old man in connection with the crime. That man was later identified as Elisaul Perez.
    Perez faces three felony charges, including a charge of assault with intent to disfigure and dismember and a charge of assault with intent to seriously injure someone with a weapon. He also faces a charge of criminal possession of a weapon.
    Perez is scheduled to appear in court on April 12 for another hearing. Queens Law Associates' Attorney David Strachan, who represents Perez, declined to comment.
    Yihung Hsieh, the owner of the Jackson Heights property, set up a GoFundMe page to help cover Ma's medical expenses from the attack. He told CNN Ma had to have surgery to relieve pressure on her brain.
    Ma died at 9:29 p.m. on February 22 at NYC Health & Hospitals/Elmhurst due to complications from blunt impact head injury, Hsieh said in a post on the GoFundMe.
    "The attack permanently damaged the right side of Mrs. Ma's brain. But the love between Mrs. Ma and her husband Mr. Zhanxin Gao remained," a statement on the GoFundMe page read.
    In early February -- about 10 weeks after the attack -- Ma woke up from her coma, the GoFundMe said. She was "able to raise her hand in response to Mr. Gao even though she could not speak still."
    When she woke up, Ma was able to move her right arm and right leg, CNN affiliate WABC reported.
    The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating the crime in November. CNN has reached out to the NYPD Monday for the latest on that investigation.
    The NYPD created an Asian Hate Crime Task Force after an increase in attacks on Asian Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic.
    Between March 19, 2020, and September 30, 2021, 10,370 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander people across the nation were reported to Stop Hate AAPI, a center that tracks reports of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans.
  • Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 339 percent nationwide last year

    Posted by · February 22, 2022 7:48 AM

    The report also points out that Black Americans remained the most targeted group in terms of hate crimes.

    NBC - New research finds that hate crimes targeting the Asian American community have reached some unprecedented levels. 

    The compilation of hate crime data, published by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, revealed that anti-Asian hate crime increased by 339 percent last year compared to the year before, with New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities surpassing their record numbers in 2020.

    The significant surge is part of an overall 11 percent increase in suspected hate crimes reported to police across a dozen of America’s largest cities. 

    The report also found that Black Americans remained the most targeted group across most cities. In New York, the Jewish community reported the most hate crimes last year, with researchers, in part, linking increases to the three-week Gaza War in May. In Chicago, gay men were the most targeted. In terms of location, Los Angeles “recorded the most hate crimes of any U.S. city this century” in 2021 alone, with New York coming in just behind it. 

    John C. Yang, the president and executive director of the nonprofit civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC, said that as the Asian American community weathers pandemic-fueled racism, the data prove that other groups deal with their own forms of hate, stressing that in times like this, “solidarity benefits us all.” 

    “We must bring attention to the hate that impacts all communities,” Yang said. “The support of our allies representing diverse communities of color and diverse faith communities has meant a great deal as our Asian American communities have been under attack. All of our diverse communities, including LGBTQ+ communities, have experienced hate, and there is a profound but tragic solidarity in that.”

    According to the data, the surge in reported anti-Asian hate crimes is significantly higher than it was in 2020, when they increased by 124 percent compared to the year before. New York City had a particularly drastic rise, from 30 to 133 anti-Asian hate crimes, a 343 percent increase. San Francisco also experienced an alarming jump, from nine to 60 crimes, a 567 percent increase. And Los Angeles had a similarly sizable hike of 173 percent. 

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  • The Growing Anti-Democratic Threat of Christian Nationalism in the U.S.

    Posted by · February 17, 2022 10:07 AM

    Time -On January 6th, 2021, insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in order to “Stop the Steal” and delay the certification of President-elect Biden’s electoral college victory. Christian flags, crosses on t-shirts, “Jesus Saves” signs, and prayers for victory in Jesus’ name were now-famously conspicuous among the mob.

    By early April, the Brennan Center for Justice reported that lawmakers in 47 states proposed over 350 bills that claim to address voter fraud by limiting mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting through stricter ID requirements, limiting eligibility to vote absentee, or fewer voting hours. The recent bills signed into law by Governors Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida are just two examples. A similar bill is currently making its way through the Texas State Legislature.

    For all their rhetoric of ensuring “fair elections” and claims of “proven voter fraud,” one might believe that these Americans, the insurrectionists and lawmakers and the millions who support their efforts, are driven by an abiding passion for democracy.

    But that’s not what the data tell us. Or history.


    The relationship between Christian nationalism and anti-democratic attitudes has a long history in this country. Limiting access to voting and employing violence in order to disrupt the democratic process are not aberrations. After the Civil War and throughout the years of Jim Crow, Christian leaders routinely provided the theological arguments needed to rationalize limiting Black Americans’ access to participation in the democratic process. They explicitly tied these efforts to their desire to protect the purity of a “Christian” nation.

    Consider the most infamous articulation of Christian nationalism’s anti-democratic goals from Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Moral Majority. In an oft-repeated 1980 speech to a group of evangelical leaders, Weyrich explained:

    “Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome―good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

    Even then Weyrich was aware that a democracy with free and open elections threatened the likelihood of white, culturally conservative Christians maintaining privileged access to the levers of power. The takeaway was obvious: make it more difficult for the political opposition―non-conservatives, but implicitly racial and ethnic minorities―to vote.

    Weyrich took his own advice. He and others worked to create organizations intent on bringing Christian nationalism’s anti-democratic impulses into reality. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—also co-founded by Weyrich in 1973—is one example. To this day ALEC supports restrictive voter policies that disproportionately affect people of color: strict voter ID laws, automated purging of registration lists, limiting mail-in or early voting, or slashing the number of polling places.

    So if the voting restrictions put into place by the lawmakers in Georgia, Florida, and Texas sound familiar, they should. History might not repeat itself but it certainly does rhyme.

    In order to understand what led to the deadly Capitol insurrection and the spate of proposed voting laws we must account for the influence of Christian nationalism, a political theology that fuses American identity with an ultra-conservative strain of Christianity. But this Christianity is something more than the orthodox Christianity of ancient creeds; it is more of an ethnic Christian-ism. In its most extreme form it legitimizes the type of violence we saw on Jan. 6 and the recent flood of voting restrictions. Violence and legislation not in service of democracy, but instead for fundamentally anti-democratic goals.

    The threat of Christian nationalism is buried within the seemingly harmless language of “heritage,” “culture,” and “values.” But within this language is an implicit understanding of civic belonging and relative worth. Study after study shows Christian nationalism is strongly associated with attitudes concerning proper social hierarchies by religion, race, and nativity. These views naturally extend to whom Americans think should have the right to participate in the political process and whether everyone should have equal access to voting.

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  • January 6th May Have Been Only the First Wave of Christian Nationalist Violence

    Posted by · February 14, 2022 8:32 AM

    Time - A year after the horrifying violence at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, a simple partisan storyline crowds out a central driver behind the events. Most media are understandably tracking the January 6 Committee and Trump’s Republican accomplices, and many pollsters have focused on the growing partisan divides regarding Trump’s role in the events or whether rioters should be prosecuted.

    Largely forgotten—unless we look back at countless photos and footage of the violence—are the Christian banners and flags, the wooden crosses, the impromptu praise and worship sessions, the “Jesus Saves” signs, the Christian t-shirts, and the infamous corporate prayer in Jesus name in the Senate Chamber. Having stormed the sanctum of American democracy, the “QAnon Shaman” thanked God for “filling this chamber with patriots that love you and that love Christ,” allowing them to send a message to their enemies “that this is our nation not theirs.”

    We are forgetting that January 6th was very much a religious event—white Christian nationalism on display. We must remember that fact. Because evidence is mounting that white Christian nationalism could provide the theological cover for more events like it.

    For several years we’ve measured Christian nationalist ideology by asking Americans a series of questions like whether they believe the government should declare the U.S. a Christian nation, or whether they reject the separation of church and state, or whether they think America’s success is part of God’s plan. We call those who score roughly in the top 20% of our scale “Ambassadors” of Christian nationalism. They are the true believers. That is around 30 million adults. And our recent findings suggest they’re growing more accepting of the insurrection on January 6th.

    In February 2021, we asked Americans for their thoughts about the Capitol riots. Then we queried those same Americans seven months later in August to see how their views shifted. Within that time, the percentage of white Ambassadors who felt the rioters should be prosecuted dropped over 22 points from 76.3% to 54.2%. Even more striking, the percentage of white Ambassadors who said they stood on the side of the rioters doubled from 13.6% to over 27%.

    Why did these white Christian nationalists start to identify more with the rioters? Our August 2021 survey suggests several reasons. First is loyalty to Trump. Nearly 92% of white Ambassadors voted for him in 2020. And compared to roughly 36% of Americans who believe the Presidential election was stolen from Trump, nearly 2.5 times that percentage of white Ambassadors (86%) held this view in August.

    But why are they still so convinced the election was a sham? In several studies we and other scholars have shown that Christian nationalism seems to incline white Americans toward baseless conspiracy theories. For example, in our August 2021 data we find that half of white Ambassadors believe falsely that the COVID-19 vaccines have themselves killed hundreds of people. And less than one third were willing to reject the outrageous QAnon conspiracy about government elites running a Satan-worshipping, pedophile, sex-trafficking ring.

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  • Further Anti-LGBTQ Entrenchment

    Posted by · February 07, 2022 8:36 AM

    SPLC - Anti-LGBTQ groups on the SPLC hate list often link being LGBTQ to pedophilia, claim that marriage equality and LGBTQ people, in general, are dangers to children, that being LGBTQ itself is dangerous, support the criminalization of LGBTQ people and transgender identity, and that there is a conspiracy called the “homosexual agenda” at work that seeks to destroy Christianity and the whole of society.

    Viewing being LGBTQ as unbiblical or simply opposing marriage equality does not qualify an organization to be listed as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

    Anti-LGBTQ groups primarily consist of Christian Right groups but also include organizations like National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) that purport to be scientific. Anti-LGBTQ groups in America have employed a variety of strategies in their efforts to oppose LGBTQ rights, including defamation. Many leaders and spokespeople of anti-LGBTQ groups have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBTQ people as "perverts" with "filthy habits" who seek to "convert" or “recruit” the children of straight parents into a “homosexual lifestyle.”

    Others link being LGBTQ to pedophilia and claim that LGBTQ people are threats to home and society. Others disseminate disparaging "facts" about LGBTQ people that are simply untrue — an approach no different to how white supremacists and nativist extremists propagate lies about black people and immigrants to make these communities seem like a danger to society.

    More recently, hardline anti-LGBTQ groups have promoted “religious freedom” and “religious liberty” legislation and legal challenges to justify anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

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