National CAPACD Mourns Lives Lost in Monterey Park Mass Shooting

National CAPACD Mourns Lives Lost in Monterey Park Mass Shooting

National CAPACD mourns the loss of community members killed in the horrific shooting at a Lunar New Year festival in Monterey Park, CA this weekend. Our hearts go out to those injured or impacted, including the grieving families and loved ones who must navigate through the tragedy and trauma caused by this violent act on a holiday that is deeply significant to many in the Asian American community. 

National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani states, “While responders are still figuring out the cause of the shooting, we know that it took place in a neighborhood with one of the highest populations of Asian Americans in the country and during a time of celebration and joy for many in our community. Too many Americans have lost their lives due to negligent gun control policies. We urge our elected officials to act swiftly to enact gun safety legislation – communities should not have to worry for their safety, fear for their lives, or grieve for their loved ones due to gun violence, and certainly not during one of their most culturally significant holidays in a neighborhood they call home.” 

In the coming days, National CAPACD will look toward local partners and allies on the ground for guidance on how we can support impacted community members. We will share any guidance we receive on our social media channels.

National CAPACD Applauds the Release of HUD’s Proposed Rule to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

National CAPACD Applauds the Release of HUD’s Proposed Rule to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing

Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a proposal to implement “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH),” a mandate of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. This rule requires HUD and its program participants to take meaningful action to promote fair housing choice, eliminate historic disparities in housing, and foster inclusive communities. National CAPACD championed the 2015 AFFH rule, which encountered challenges under the previous Administration. We applaud HUD for continuing this critical work to create more equitable communities for groups that face barriers to opportunities because of historic discrimination.

“This proposal demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to fully enforce the Fair Housing Act – it has the potential to reduce racial wealth inequities, increase safe and affordable housing options, build economic and social well-being, and strengthen the vibrancy and stability of under-resourced neighborhoods,” states National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani. “The AFFH rule encompasses much more than addressing discriminatory conduct; it requires organizations and stakeholders to take proactive measures to advance equitable communities that work for all households, particularly those who have been historically disadvantaged.”

National CAPACD appreciates the opportunity to comment on this important rulemaking. We will submit recommendations during the comment period and share opportunities with our members to engage in the process.

National CAPACD Lovingly Remembers the Life and Legacy of Esther Wong

National CAPACD Lovingly Remembers the Life and Legacy of Esther Wong

National CAPACD is deeply saddened by the loss of Esther Wong, who passed away last month on October 9th in the presence of her loving family. Esther was a former National CAPACD board member and the co-founder and former Executive Director of Chinese American Service League (CASL). She was a lifelong leader and advocate for Asian Americans and immigrant communities in Chicago and across the country. Perhaps most importantly, she was a deeply respected mentor and beloved friend to colleagues, clients, and co-conspirators alike.  

Esther dedicated her life to the preservation and growth of Chicago’s Chinatown, and to the expansion of services and resources for multigenerational immigrant communities across the country. Those who had the honor of touring Chicago’s Chinatown with her could feel her love, care, and dedication for the community. Her legacy lives on in the affordable housing developments, youth afterschool programs, senior services, and small businesses that make up the neighborhood. 

Esther’s leadership was special – she nurtured her relationships and deeply invested in the leadership of others with kindness and patience. Her generous spirit and dedication was reflected in the support that CASL provided, as a seasoned organization in National CAPACD’s membership, to other members with limited experience and resources. We would like to share some reflections from National CAPACD staff and board about the deep impact that Esther had during her tenure as a board member:

National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani shared, “Esther was a dearly loved and deeply respected leader in our community. She was a teacher and dear friend who I learned so much from over the years. She was simultaneously always kind and attentive to all those around her while always remaining a powerful advocate rooted in her deep commitment to social justice. She truly stood in her power and understood her purpose within the broader movement – supporting so many leaders as well as building and strengthening numerous vital organizations in the Chicago area and across the country.  We are deeply saddened by the loss of Esther but celebrate her legacy that lives on throughout our communities, always.”

National CAPACD Board Member Maiko Winkler-Chin shared, “I believe Esther and I started on the National CAPACD board at the same time as I don’t remember a time without her. She’s the board member and human I want to be – thoughtful, dedicated, kind, and caring. I remember walking through Chicago’s Chinatown and CASL’s offices with Esther, seeing the love she had for her community. She was inspiring, and I feel fortunate to have met her.”

National CAPACD Board Member and HANA Center Executive Director Inhe Choi shared, “Esther was a powerful role model for me and so many others around her, especially Asian American women. She was kind, thoughtful, and effective. Esther’s dedication and strategic leadership led to Chicago’s Chinatown being recognized as the “Best Chinatown” in the country! She exemplified the critical role and power of working behind the scenes to uplift community members and develop leaders. She was filled with joy and love for her family. We will all miss her. But we are all so lucky to have known her and experienced her wisdom and care to help us to be better community workers. Thank you Esther!

Our condolences and sympathies go out to Esther’s family and the Chicago community. Her legacy will continue to inspire us and our vision for our communities – her dedication to justice expressed through her lifelong service and love for her communities set an example we must all work toward.

Please read CASL CEO Paul Luu’s statement and check back here to learn about ways you can honor Esther’s legacy.

National CAPACD Denounces Ruling That Would Undermine Consumer Protections

National CAPACD Denounces Ruling That Would Undermine Consumer Protections

This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the funding mechanism for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional. This jeopardizes more than a decade of progress by the CFPB and advocates to keep consumers safe from predatory financial products and services. By challenging how the Bureau is funded, the ruling makes it possible for bad actors to undermine other CFPB consumer protections.

“This ruling is a threat to consumer safety and well-being,” states National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani. “It intends to weaken past and future CFPB rulemaking and enforcement remedies that hold financial actors accountable for the predatory actions they take. This includes unsafe products and services that target low-income Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. As advocates who serve the communities most vulnerable to predatory financial practices, we must work together to preserve and strengthen the CFPB.”

National CAPACD Applauds the Signing of the Inflation Reduction Act

National CAPACD Applauds the Signing of the Inflation Reduction Act 

Yesterday, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the most significant action taken to respond to the climate crisis in U.S. history. The Administration will invest in clean energy solutions that reduce pollution and advance environmental justice, while bringing down energy costs for families and creating thousands of well-paid union jobs. In addition, the Administration will address rising inflation by working to reduce the deficit. These measures, as well as lower healthcare costs and a fairer tax code, demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to our cost-burdened communities.

National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani states “We applaud the Administration for their leadership – their bold response to the growing crisis of climate change is also, at its heart, a strong response to the impacts of this crisis on low-income communities of color. National CAPACD also knows that the work must continue; in order to address rising inflation, we must acknowledge how inflation disproportionately impacts low- to moderate-income families, particularly communities of color in high-cost cities that are already struggling as the rental housing market becomes increasingly unaffordable. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Administration to create even more opportunities for wealth-building and economic security for low-income families and communities of color.”

National CAPACD Pushes for a Stronger Community Reinvestment Act

National CAPACD Pushes for a Stronger Community Reinvestment Act

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is a landmark piece of legislation that was enacted in 1977 to combat discrimination in the lending industry. Despite this, there are still significant barriers to accessing quality products and services for low- and middle-income (LMI) communities of color. To address this, federal agencies have released a proposed rule to reform the CRA. 

National CAPACD has been hard at work advocating to make this proposal even stronger. On July 13th, our Executive Director Seema Agnani testified at the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services (HFSC) hearing titled Better Together: Examining the Unified Proposed Rule to Modernize the Community Reinvestment Act and recommended equitable Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) policies for AANHPI communities. You can watch a recording of the testimony below. 

You can read the full testimony here. For a full list of hearing witnesses and more information, visit the HFSC CRA hearing page here.

On August 5th, we submitted a comment letter with detailed recommendations on how this proposed rule can be strengthened to modernize the CRA and expand access to financial services and credit for LMI communities and communities of color. 29 of our members and three national allies joined us by signing on to our letter.

Read the comment letter and see our recommendations for a stronger CRA here

You can read the joint recommendations we submitted as part of the Building Back Better for Entrepreneurs of Color partnership here.

Seema Agnani Testimony, “Better Together: Examining the Unified Proposed Rule to Modernize the Community Reinvestment Act”

Statement of Seema Agnani, Executive Director,
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community

House Committee on Financial Services,
Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions
Hearing on “Better Together: Examining the Unified Proposed Rule to Modernize
the Community Reinvestment Act”

National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani provided testimony to the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee on the federal banking regulators’ joint rule proposal to strengthen and modernize Community Reinvestment Act regulations to more effectively achieve its original intent of addressing inequities and discriminatory practices such as redlining within our financial system.

Read the full testimony here.

National CAPACD Stands Firmly for Safe and Legal Access to Abortion

National CAPACD Stands Firmly for Safe and Legal Access to Abortion

National CAPACD vehemently opposes the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women Health Organization decision announced today, which effectively overturns the constitutional right to abortion established in the landmark Roe v. Wade.

The Dobbs decision is a devastating setback – it will lead to severe restrictions on legal abortions in at least 26 states and territories, which will leave almost 40 million women without access to safe reproductive care. We know this will have a disproportionate impact on the communities we serve, including immigrants, Limited English Proficient speakers, communities of color, low-income workers, LGBTQ community members, and those with disabilities.

National CAPACD Executive Director Seema Agnani states, “Women in low-income Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities are often frontline, low-wage workers with very few, if any, benefits and social safety nets. Many of them also navigate language barriers and entrenched cultural stigmas about abortions. The Dobbs decision effectively eliminates their access to safe, legal abortions in many states, which endangers their health and bodies and further entraps them in cycles of poverty. If SCOTUS does not protect the reproductive rights of women in this country, National CAPACD calls on Congress to pass proactive abortion legislation.”

Read NAPAWF’s statement here.

National CAPACD Grieves Texas School Shooting & Recent Hate Violence

National CAPACD Grieves Texas School Shooting & Recent Hate Violence

On the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, our communities reel again from the tragic school shooting yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 children and two teachers, and wounded 17 others. The news of this massacre comes when we have not yet wiped the tears from the racist shooting that killed 10 Black people, many of them elders, on May 14th at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. We have not yet recovered from the fears stoked by the hate-motivated shooting on May 15th at an Orange County, California church attended by the Taiwanese community.

National CAPACD’s work is driven by our vision of healthy, vibrant neighborhoods in which all community members can live and thrive. These last few weeks have reminded us, again and again, of the long road and immense work ahead toward this vision because our neighborhoods are not safe spaces for our communities. Every person must be able to move freely and without fear of racism and hate-based violence in our schools, in our places of worship, in our grocery stores, in our public transit systems. Racism and hate have permeated these institutions and left our neighborhoods bereft of public spaces in which we can be assured that our children and elders are safe.

The tragedies of these last few weeks begs the question – how many collective tears must we shed for lives lost before our leaders, responsible for our safety, enact change? President Biden announced today, on the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, an Executive Order which will reform federal policing and push state, local, and Tribal agencies to make the same necessary changes. It is a critical first step, but there is still much that needs to be done to promote public safety.

Yet we know there is tremendous power in our will for change, as well as our care for one another and our communities. We must demand gun control legislation, criminal justice reform, and meaningful public safety solutions that challenge race- and hate-based violence without criminalizing communities of color. We owe this to our youth and our elders.

National CAPACD Lovingly Remembers Darshan Khalsa

It is with heavy hearts that National CAPACD shares the loss of Darshan Khalsa, a former staff member, on the morning of December 13, 2021 at the young age of 48, after struggling to fight endometrial cancer diagnosed earlier this year. Darshan passed peacefully surrounded by loved ones.

She is remembered for her grace, good sense of humor, and tireless commitment to social justice. Darshan worked with National CAPACD for more than three years, during a critical period in its development. As recalled by our former Executive Director, Lisa Hasegawa, “Darshan served as the first Deputy Director of National CAPACD, serving at a time of critical growth and expansion for the organization. She was a fierce advocate, prolific fundraiser, and brilliant strategist, but I will remember her most for her wonderful sense of humor, and her deep belief that our movement organizations needed to be humanistic and healthy. She made a profound impact on so many organizations, often working behind the scenes, taking pride in the success of those she supported, coached, and mentored. She will be forever remembered and dearly missed by her National CAPACD family.”


Community in the Capital 2007

Darshan’s legacy lives on throughout the fabric of National CAPACD, as we advance a vision for the organization that she held firmly as not just being community-driven but community-led. We are thankful for all she brought to our organization and the broader movement.

Services will be held in Oakland next year. To honor Darshan’s legacy, we encourage you to donate to one of the following organizations:

URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, Darshan’s longtime movement home, which has established the Darshan Khalsa Reproductive Justice Scholarship Fund, to support young leaders of color in achieving their dreams. Make a contribution directly to this fund in Darshan’s honor here.

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) builds power with AAPI women and girls to influence critical decisions affecting their lives, families, and communities. Using a reproductive justice framework, NAPAWF elevates AAPI women and girls to impact policy and drive systemic change in the United States. Darshan was a longtime supporter of NAPAWF’s work; donate to NAPAWF here.