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Discrimination and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Race, Disability, and the Struggle for Equal Treatment - 12/15/2020

In 1945, seventy-five years ago, New York State became the first state in the nation to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, color, creed, and national origin. This is how the Division of Human Rights was born and we are proud to say that today, we continue in our legacy of leadership. This second virtual conference in our series celebrating DHR’s 75th anniversary focused on an issue that continues to impact all of us: the COVID-19 Pandemic. While no one is immune from COVID-19, we have seen that certain communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and its effects. Throughout the pandemic, we have been forced to reckon with unjust targeting and attacks against Asian Americans, systemic health care disparities in Black and Brown communities, and the challenges, particularly in workplaces, for people with disabilities. This discussion focused on the role that civil rights and anti-discrimination protections, including the NYS Human Rights Law, can play to ensure that all communities are protected and safe as we continue to battle this global pandemic.



Speakers included

  • Susan Dooha, Executive Director, Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York
    Susan M. Dooha, J.D., is Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY). CIDNY’s goal is to ensure full integration, independence and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural and civic life of the community. In 2020, CIDNY worked one-to-one with nearly 42,000 individuals.

    Sixty percent of CIDNY’s staff are bilingual and bicultural and speak 18 languages. We speak 3 of 4 of the top languages spoken in New York City. Thirty-three percent of CIDNY staff are African American, 13 percent are Asian American, 28 percent are Hispanic/Latino/a, and 28 percent are White. Seventy-four percent of CIDNY’s employees are people of color. Seventy-nine percent of people with disabilities

    CIDNY seeks to mirror the communities that it serves. We serve people across all disabilities, most of those we serve are people of color and have disabilities, are living in poverty and in high risk areas. We serve people with disabilities who are in nursing facilities, adult homes, group homes and homeless shelters as well as other congregate facilities. We also serve people with disabilities who are living independently in their own homes. The majority appear to us to have a health condition that places them at a higher risk according to the CDC. Key concerns raised with us during the pandemic have included deinstitutionalization, loss of employment, fear of eviction from housing, food access and health care access.

    Dooha obtained her law degree at Yeshiva University, Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law in 1990 where she was twice awarded the Belkin Scholars Award. Dooha is herself a person with a disability.


  • Nanette Goodman, Director of Research, National Disability Institute
    Nanette Goodman is the research advisor at National Disability Institute where she has been studying the financial status and financial capability of people with disabilities. She has quantified and described the disparities between people with and without disabilities in their financial stability and use of financial services and has specifically assessed the disparity in financial outcomes of people with disabilities by race and ethnicity. For the past 15 years she has been using quantitative and qualitative research methods to analyze disability policy issues in the U.S. and low- and middle-income countries. She has written book chapters, published in peer-reviewed journals, developed policy white papers, and contributed to government evaluation studies. She received her M.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1988.

    Most recently, she has co-authored reports that may be of interest: Race, Ethnicity and Disability: The Financial Impact of Systemic Inequality and Intersectionality, The Extra Costs of Living with a Disability: Resetting the Policy Table, Closing the Disability Gap: Reforming the Community Reinvestment Act Regulatory Framework, Identifying the Needs of People with Disabilities During the COVID Crisis.

    You can find these and other studies about the financial status of people with disabilities at: Opens in a new windowhttps://www.nationaldisabilityinstitute.org/reports/.


  • Dr. Kevin Nadal, Professor of Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice & Graduate Center at the City University of New York
    Dr. Kevin Leo Yabut Nadal is a Professor of Psychology at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Graduate Center at the City University of New York. He received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Columbia University in New York City and is one of the leading researchers in understanding the impacts of microaggressions, or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people; and other marginalized groups.

    He has published over 100 works on multicultural issues in the fields of psychology and education. A California-bred New Yorker, he was named one of People Magazine's hottest bachelors in 2006 and one of NBC's Pride 30 in 2018. He once won an argument with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor"; and he was even once a Hot Topic on ABC's "The View". He has been featured in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, HGTV, Philippine News, and The Filipino Channel.

    He is the author of ten books including Filipino American Psychology (2011, Wiley); That's So Gay: Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (2013, APA); Microaggressions and Traumatic Stress (2018, APA); and Queering Law and Order (2020, Lexington). He was the first openly gay President of the Asian American Psychological Association and the first person of color to serve as the Executive Director of the Center for LGBTQ Studies. He is a National Trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and a co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color National Network.

    He has delivered hundreds of lectures across the United States, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol. He has won numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association 2017 Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest; the 2019 Richard Tewksbury Award from the Western Society of Criminology, and the Thought Leadership Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

  • Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation
    Jo-Ann Yoo is the executive director of the Asian American Federation, a membership organization that works with the over sixty nonprofits that represent and support the pan-Asian community. Jo-Ann’s professional experiences include program management and operations, fundraising, and advocacy in the fields of community development and immigrant rights. Previous employers include the New York Immigration Coalition and Asian Americans for Equality.

    Currently, she is a member of the board of directors of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, an umbrella organization representing and serving some 1,500 member nonprofit organizations throughout New York City, Long Island, and Westchester. Additionally, she serves on the New York State AARP’s Diversity Council. For ten years, she served on the board of National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, the first national advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the community development needs of the AAPI communities. She was also a member of the first cohort of New York City Coro’s New American Leaders Program and served on the Alumni Advisory Board of Coro New York.

    Established in 1989, the Asian American Federation is a pan-Asian non-profit organization representing a network of community service agencies in the Northeast. These agencies work in the fields of health & human services, education, economic development, civic participation, and social justice. The Asian American Federation’s mission is to raise the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness and organizational development.