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Joe Tsai among Asian-American leaders behind $250 million anti-discrimination effort

Key Speakers At The 2019 Milken Conference

Joe Tsai is among a group of prominent — and wealthy — Asian-American leaders behind a quarter-billion dollar effort to support Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) organizations and causes over the next five years — the largest philanthropic commitment in history by Asian-Americans.

The effort, announced Monday, is spearheaded by a new initiative, The Asian American Foundation on whose board Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba the Chinese e-commerce giant, now sits. It was spurred in large part by the recent epidemic of violence against Asian-American and Pacific Islanders across the country, with a number of the ugliest taking place on the streets of New York. In the city alone, hate crimes have risen by 223 percent in the past year. In the U.S., the number is 169 percent.

Half the money — $125 million — will come from Tsai and other members of the initiative including Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! and Li Liu, the foundation chair who runs Himalaya Capital. The other half will come from organizations like Walmart, Bank of America, the Ford Foundation and the NBA.

The foundation said in a statement...

TAAF was founded to solve for the longstanding lack of investment in AAPI communities — particularly as anti-AAPI hate and violence persist at alarming rates. Historically, AAPI communities have received less than 0.5% of charitable giving from foundations. TAAF will address this severe underinvestment by offering funding and resources to the ecosystem of advocates and organizations committed to AAPI causes. TAAF seeks to bring AAPI communities together to more effectively mobilize action against hate and violence and to build the infrastructure needed to improve AAPI advocacy, power, and representation across American society.

Monday morning, Tsai tweeted out a personal message.

The foundation also includes an advisory council among whose members is former Net Jeremy Lin.

In March, Tsai’s BSE Global, parent company to the Nets, Liberty and Barclays Center, called for an end to racially targeted violence against Asians and Asian-Americans, noting the surge in attacks, including the mass shootings that occurred at three spas in the Atlanta metro area in mid-March. Eight people were killed, six of whom were Asian women.

The statement, entitled “Enough is enough,” read...

“The surge in racially motivated violence over the past year, especially those most recently targeted at the Asian community is unconscionable and must be condemned. Regardless of race, ethnic origin, gender, religion, age or sexual orientation, hate has no place in our society.”

Nearly a year ago, BSE Global issued a similar statement following two days of protest on the Barclays Center entrance plaza against the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Tayler and others by police. It too was entitled, “Enough is Enough.”

Tsai has spoken about the growth of Anti-Asian sentiment and resulting violence since the middle of 2020, blaming former President Trump’s commentary on COVID-19 for much of the rise.

Tsai had strong words for the then-President’s treatment of Asian-Americans last September, including Trump’s references to the “China virus” and “kung flu.” Tsai did not call out Trump by name, instead pointedly calling him, “the guy in the White House.” Tsai is a native of Taiwan with Canadian citizenship who spent most of his formative years in U.S. His wife, Clara, a native of Kansas, and their children are U.S. citizens.

Through their foundation, the Tsai’s have funded a $50 million Social Justice Fund for Brooklyn, an outgrowth of last May’s protests. Clara Wu Tsai is also a founding partner and major benefactor of the REFORM Alliance which was set up to help transform the probation and parole systems in the United States.

Most recently, the Tsai’s took note of the verdict in the Minneapolis trial of George Floyd’s killer.

“We stand with George Floyd’s family and the communities that have come together across this country to mourn his murder and we re-affirm our commitment to work together with our allies to end systemic racism and injustice,” they said in a statement released on April 20, the date of the verdict. “Our work goes on.”