Guest Opinion - Rising Above the Rhetoric and Moving Forward

By Stephanie Nguyen, Elk Grove Vice Mayor and Executive Director of Asian Resources Inc. |

Sacramento County has been my home for nearly 40 years. So, what I see today is deeply personal and deeply painful.

2020 was an incredibly traumatic year. We all came together as allies to support brown and black communities in pain.

And we all underwent the trauma of COVID 19 unfolding…

Our nation watched the horror of the rapid and incredibly deadly spread of COVID 19.

30 million cases. 550,000 deaths. All disproportionately borne by communities of color. We watched our nation come to a halt.

Our Asian community was unfairly blamed for COVID 19 and became an easy target for violence. Anti-Asian hate crimes surged 149-percent in the largest US cities while overall hate crimes dropped to seven-percent in 2020. Think about it – there was a 142-percent gap between anti-Asian hate crimes and all other hate crimes in the United States in 2020.

Yet last Saturday, Sacramento County residents of all ethnicities and races came together to support us and to acknowledge our trauma and pain.

I was lifted up and comforted once again by the belief that Sacramento is better and stronger and more hopeful than other places across the country.

That belief was shattered by the ugliness of the “wanted” poster featuring Howard Chan, our first Asian American City Manager, dripping in blood, calling for a protest at his home.

While some may claim that the tone and ugliness of their social media activity targeted at Chan is unrelated and free from anti-Asian sentiments, this rings false. It is impossible to view this separate from the 149% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.

You can’t profess to advocate for communities of color and be tone-deaf or distance yourself from a wanted poster dripping in blood with the face of an Asian American man.

As advocates for communities of color, we are all accountable for our rhetoric and actions. We have a responsibility to call out our own when they act in error.

Only then can we move forward. Together.

ARI is a nonprofit organization in the Sacramento Region that was created during the Fall of Saigon to help newly arrived Vietnamese Refugees and immigrants. ARI continues its service to refugee, immigrant, limited English-speaking, and low-income communities today.

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