'I am American': South Bay judges star in rare video in honor of AAPI Heritage Month

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
South Bay judges star in rare video to promote social justice
We don't often think of camera-shy judges turning to video to promote social justice. But that's exactly what some South Bay judges have done.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- We don't often think of camera-shy judges turning to video to promote social justice. But that's exactly what some South Bay judges have done. Race and social justice is a pillar of Building A Better Bay Area.

On rare occasions when cameras are allowed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, we're told not to take video of the judges. That makes this video unusual that features 13 of them, all of them of Asian American or Pacific Islander heritage.

"I'm Judge Erica Yew, and I'm an American." Yew, who became the first Asian American woman judge in Santa Clara County nearly 20 years ago, opened the video with that statement.

The video was created to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

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"We're camera shy, and we're shy of publicity, but we felt on balance it was an important thing to do," Judge Yew said.

The eight-minute video shares personal insights how they, as members of immigrant families, have faced injustice. Judge Jacqueline Arroyo said her father, a decorated veteran and a retired Marine Corps officer, and others of his generation are an example.

"They are often discriminated against, despite having faithfully served our country. I am Judge Jacqueline Arroyo, and I am an American."

One by one, the judges reveal their human side and their commitment to diversity, inclusion and equal justice while being fair-minded.

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"When we deliver messages that can be sometimes really harsh, hard things for people to hear, that we do it in a respectful and human way," said Judge Yew.

The video has caught the attention of teachers, who plan to use it in classes, and of other courts that may produce similar ones. An earlier video focused on the message of social justice.

"We will cultivate inclusivity, diversity, racial representation and raise self-awareness through education, crucial conversations and community collaboration and legislation," said Judge Jacqui Duong.

The message is clear.

One by one and then in chorus, the judges of Santa Clara County Superior Court end the "We Are Committed" video saying, "We are committed to achieving justice and equality for all."

Resources to help the Asian American and Pacific Islander community