CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities was formed in 1986 (formerly known as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) as a response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes both in New York City and around the country (which included violence by police officers against Asians).
They have two offices – one in Manhattan’s Chinatown (which houses the Chinatown Tenants Union, and the new Asian Youth in Action organizing project) and the Youth Leadership Project office in the Bronx – and have members from all over the city. Over the years, CAAAV’s main campaigns have focused on community-based organizing work rooted in Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Although their advocacy and organizing work is focused mainly in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the northwest Bronx, CAAAV’s work also touches upon larger issues (such as affordable housing, war, and immigration) shaping communities all over the world: “Our work is primarily centered around issues facing New Yorkers, but always with a global analysis.”
CAAAV’s mission is to organize and build the power of working-class Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth to change concrete conditions and participate in a broader social justice movement. In the past, CAAAV’s work included organizing South Asian taxi drivers, Korean women workers, and Filipina domestic workers. Several of these organizing projects have gone on to become their own organizations, such as the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United.
CAAAV’s current work focus on three different program areas:
• the Chinatown Tenants Union (CTU) that organizes Chinese immigrant tenants
to fight displacement and gentrification. The Chinatown Tenants Union was
formed in 2005 as a response to the rapid gentrification that was happening
not just in Chinatown, but throughout New York City and in urban areas
across the U.S., primarily in working-class communities of color;
• Asian Youth in Action (AYA), that organizes Asian youth from around
the city; and
• the Youth Leadership Project (YLP), which organizes the Southeast Asian
refugee community in the Bronx.
One current CAAAV campaign focuses on rezoning in Chinatown, and is pushing for a new rezoning of the neighborhood that will limit luxury development, lessen displacement pressures against tenants and small businesses, and build truly affordable housing in Chinatown.
As part of a broader social justice movement, CAAAV works collaboratively with several organizations, including the Urban Justice Center, FIERCE, Community Voices Heard, Picture the Homeless, FUREE, GOLES, Hester Street Collaborative, and Chinese Staff and Workers Association. They are also part of two social justice-based alliances, the Right to the City Alliance (CAAAV is one of the founding members) and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance.
CAAAV believes that any movement for social change should be and needs to be led by those most impacted by injustice – immigrants, people of color, youth – and prioritizes building the consciousness and leadership of members and community residents.