We Remain Unchanged

Mee Moua, Outgoing President, Advancing Justice | AAJC

Sometimes a series of unfortunate events unfold, and you can only pause, clarify, and try to move on. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC finds itself in that position now.

Earlier this week, an article sparked a robust conversation online in which it caused people in our communities to question Advancing Justice | AAJC’s commitment to net neutrality. Our position has remained unchanged. Any reporting to the contrary is a mischaracterization of our position.

Let me be clear. We have and will continue to strongly advocate for an open Internet that grants fair and equitable use, especially to communities of color. In our written comments to the FCC in July 2014, we strongly advocated for protecting against discrimination and promoting competition; transparency of ISPs network management practices, performance characteristics, and commercial terms; and protecting freedom of speech. When the FCC decided to use its authority to enact net neutrality through regulatory mechanisms, we supported the end results.

The fact that we, as a non-profit, receive contributions from corporations does not influence our positions and will not lead us to abandon the principles we promote. Those principles include protecting freedom of speech by valuing the diversity in our voices, calling on fair representation of Asian Americans in the media, and calling out news organizations for not having any or enough diversity in their newsroom. Those are principles are aligned and supported by our other civil rights partners in the space.

Unfortunately, the coalition letter we signed onto, referenced in the article, erroneously identified our organization as Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which is a group of five, independent civil rights organizations of which Advancing Justice | AAJC is one. Regrettably, that error led to a lot of commentary and confusion for which the other affiliation groups — Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice — Los Angeles, Advancing Justice — Atlanta, and Advancing Justice — Chicago — had to respond. Advancing Justice | AAJC alone signed onto the letter with a coalition of civil rights groups to underscore that we will need to consider legislative actions to address net neutrality with any potential changes to come from the new administration.

Advancing Justice | AAJC has worked hard over the past several years to raise issues of protecting and strengthening an open Internet for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and our fellow communities of color. The Internet is an invaluable resource of information for those who are limited English proficient (LEP) in our communities. Last year we advocated with the FCC to require multilingual emergency information through the emergency alert system so the 25 million LEP individuals in the United States have access to urgent life-saving information. Additionally, we have been a staunch supporter of programs such as Lifeline or reducing the phone rates for families having to choose between calls with their incarcerated loved ones (at a $1 or more per minute) or putting food on their table at home.

Each time a new administration comes in, we advocate for regulatory actions to protect our communities. In the last administration, we forecasted the potential for having to push beyond regulatory actions and into legislative actions. Now with changes in the new administration and potential changes to FCC policies, we forecast the potential increased need for legislative tools in our fight to protect communities and their access to a free, open Internet while recognizing that even a legislative process will be difficult and potentially problematic.

You and the programs that support you are important to us. We regret there was even a moment of confusion or concern about Advancing Justice | AAJC’s position on having an open, fair, and equitable Internet ecosystem. You are the reason we do this work each day. We will continue to fight for and advocate for you.