Dear Andrew Yang,
We the undersigned Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) New Yorkers, community members, organizers, and activists oppose your bid to be our next Mayor.
Our city and our communities are in crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic has killed tens of thousands, exacerbated health disparities, deepened a renters’ crisis, and rocketed unemployment. It has also resulted in mass business closures, increased barriers to education, heightened police violence, and led to a rise in anti-APIA hate violence. In this context, APIA communities, which represent 15% of the city’s population, are experiencing the highest poverty rate of any racial and ethnic subgroup, with APIA unemployment rate growing 7000% at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Although many of us have been organizing for more APIA representation in New York City politics, representation alone is simply not enough. As the 2021 mayoral candidate with the most name recognition, your track record, actions, and proposed policies concern us, as they do not uplift marginalized APIA, BIPOC, immigrant, and working class members of this city. Specifically, you’ve:
- Perpetuated racist stereotypes and associated with racists. You’ve made anti-Black comments about Venture for America applicants, urged Asian Americans to “show our American-ness” in the face of COVID-19, advocated to give more resources, funding, and credibility to a police department with a history of anti-Asian violence, and refused to condemn the misogynistic and racist behavior of your supporters. In fact, you built your rise to fame on appearances in right-wing podcasts. Recently, you missed a progressive Muslim forum to appear on an alt-right podcast, showing your untrustworthiness on issues of race.
- Taken pro-policing stances. You’ve defended policing as a solution to social issues, despite the legacies of police violence against our communities and widespread calls to shrink the NYPD’s encroachment into many city functions. You supported more policing in subways despite police violence against street homeless New Yorkers. In the face of rising anti-Asian hate violence, you’ve called for increased funding for the NYPD hate crimes task force instead of community-based alternatives. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and calls to defund and divest from policing, you continued to support a set of ineffective and superficial reforms like body cameras and name and appearance changes. Your campaign is run by Tusk Strategies, who represented the openly racist New York City’s police union, and supported by Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15), who has been condemned by mothers of people murdered by the police for his record on policing.
- Lacked vision on our most eminent crises, especially housing and homelessness. On housing, you lack a comprehensive plan for safe, quality, affordable housing despite the immense public housing, affordable housing, and homelessness crises. You’ve called for more police in subways instead of housing for street homeless New Yorkers. Many policies on your website, such as in your health agenda, similarly lack vision, concrete actions, and clarity on how you intend to accomplish your stated goals.
- Espoused harmful education policies that will hurt our kids. Your history of running a test prep company undoubtedly led to your commitment to segregationist testing and high-stakes educational policy, which harms working class APIA students, the majority of whom do not attend specialized high schools, and 40% of whom are not college-ready upon graduation of high school. You’ve defended NYC’s fundamentally unfair gifted and talented program. You’ve defended the Specialized High School Admissions Test and building of more specialized high schools. Your position on yeshivas and religious schools is the most extreme of all the mayoral candidates and transparently political, prioritizing votes over a child’s right to a basic education. You’ve defended charter schools, despite their deliberate encroachment on public school students, space, and funding. You proposed reducing student loan programs and opposed free college education, which would most help working-class NYC students of color. You have been consistently and explicitly anti-teachers’ union, parroting right-wing talking points on “school choice” and choosing to pit teachers against parents rather than understanding how teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.
- Used “progressive” campaign promises to hide regressive policies. Despite your signature universal basic income (UBI) proposal, you’ve failed to articulate a plan to address racial inequities in our economy. Your $2,000-a-year “UBI” proposal is not universal, does not replace an income, and will not resolve deep poverty, a lack of basic healthcare, food insecurity, housing instability, or other inequities. Your proposal keeps many households well under the median national poverty line of $12,490-per-year, an income that already results in homelessness.
- Allied with reactionary forces and big business. You’ve continued your history of rejecting proposals to tax the rich and promised loyalty to the elite in meetings with big business, even as residents struggle to meet basic needs. You were recruited, and your campaign is run by Tusk Strategies, who made $100 million by helping Uber infiltrate our city, undermining yellow cab drivers; helped pass Proposition 22 in California preventing app-based drivers there from obtaining minimum wage and benefits; represented the openly racist NYC police union; and have clear conflicts of business interest. You tweeted your preference in partnering with Elon Musk on NYC’s fleet of electric vehicles, a violation of city contracting laws. You have called for increased policing and regulation of street vendors, a largely immigrant and low income workforce that is routinely targeted for harassment and violence by the NYPD and face onerous barriers to providing a service that is part of the vibrant fabric of NYC life. If this is what you’re tweeting, we can only imagine what promises you are making to the rich about NYC’s future behind closed doors.
- Exhibited discriminatory practices and workplace toxicity. As the executive of Manhattan GMAT, you fired an employee for getting married and routinely discriminated against other women. Additionally, your 2020 presidential campaign created a culture of widespread misogyny that resulted in female employees being sidelined, bullied, and harassed.
- Taken harmful stances on BDS. In an opinion piece in The Forward, you compared the nonviolent, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to fascist boycotts of Jewish businesses and accused the movement of being rooted in “antisemitic thought and history.” To conflate valid criticism and resistance against the actions of the Israeli state with antisemitism is to delegitimize the BDS movement, stifle dissent, and to ensure that the occupation of Palestine continues while alienating and ignoring the concerns of thousands of Palestinian New Yorkers.
In 2022, New York City needs a leader who can truly grapple with the complex racial and economic injustices and the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers in the pandemic’s aftermath. There are candidates more aligned with social and racial justice values, with deeper commitments to APIA and BIPOC communities, whose mayoralty would actually benefit our communities, and they are not getting the attention they deserve. We, our loved ones, and our neighbors deserve better. Our communities deserve better. New York City deserves better.