California Needs a Racial Bias Strike Team Against Anti-Asian COVID-19 Racism

Asian Americans in California have self-reported 832 incidents of discrimination and harassment in the last three months, including 81 incidents of assault and 64 potential civil rights violations, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center and the leading aggregator of incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic, founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) and San Francisco State University Asian American Studies Department.

As California Assemblymember David Chiu, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times, “There’s not just a pandemic of health — there’s a pandemic of hate.”

Discrimination and harassment of Asian Americans in California has drawn national attention recently after a series of videos in Torrance, California, featured a woman using graphic racist language against Asian Americans. The videos have received millions of views, and reflect just a handful of the incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate in California. The new report shows that incidents of racism and discrimination are not isolated to any particular area but are a statewide problem — Asian Americans have reported incidents in 34 counties so far. Incidents are reportedly taking place in California in retail stores, in the workplace, and online.

Anti-Asian American harassment has been further stoked by President Trump’s repeated use of the term “Kung Flu” in recent rallies and comments on Twitter scapegoating China for the United States’ devastating failure to control the coronavirus. 

I am appalled by these acts of hatred and by President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian bigotry.

I first raised the issue of the COVID-19 outbreak and incidents of discrimination, harassment, and bullying of people thought to be Chinese at the Irvine City Council meeting on more than a month ago, on March 10.  I stated that we needed to do more to educate the public about how racism and xenophobia will hurt us in this crisis, and that we are all in this together.

I continue to be concerned, especially as reports increased of a surge in racially charged attacks unfairly directing blame for the pandemic on Asians and Asian Americans, while President Trump insists on using the phrase “Chinese virus” or “Kong Flu” when speaking of COVID-19.

In May, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scare-mongering” and urged governments to “act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate.”

In response to these attacks, Stop AAPI Hate has now called on California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team comprised of key state agencies and departments that have jurisdiction over public education, implementing state and federal civil rights laws, overseeing workplace and employment discrimination, providing mental health services to vulnerable communities, and offering support to local Asian American-serving community-based organizations.

As Dr. Russell Jeung, Chair and Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, explains, “Without government accountability, we risk COVID-related racism against Asian Americans becoming deeply entrenched, ultimately impacting the lives of millions of people in California and around the country.”

I join with Stop AAPI Hate in calling on California Governor Gavin Newsom to establish a Racial Bias Strike Team against anti-Asian COVID-19 racism.

I further call on all my colleagues in elected office in Orange County, both Democratic and Republican, to join me in loudly and unequivocally condemning these acts of hatred, as well as President Trump’s continued stoking of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hatred and bigotry by using the terms “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” in reference to COVID-19.

No one, especially not the president, should use racial or racist terms in describing COVID-19.

Sadly, no Orange County Republican elected official has explicitly condemned Trump’s racist, anti-Asian “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” language regarding COVID-19. Their cowardice and complicity leaves an indelible stain on their party and themselves.

All who have witnessed or experienced anti-Asian attacks are encouraged to file a report HERE.

Reports may be made in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Japanese, Hmong, Tagalog, Khmer, Thai and Punjabi.

If you have experienced anti-Asian bullying, harassment, hate speech, or violence in Irvine, please also contact the Irvine Police Department at 949-724-7000.  In an emergency, call 911.  Neither the Irvine Police Department nor the Irvine City Council will tolerate any such anti-Asian attacks or discrimination in Irvine.

Please also let me know at melissafox@cityofirvine.org.

We’re in this together.  Don’t hate, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Remembering Black April and Honoring Those Who Fought for and Fled to Freedom

April 30th is the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.  In Vietnamese, it is remembered as Tháng Tư Đen — Black April.

It is a time to remember and honor our more than 58,000 fallen and missing soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, our half a million Vietnam War veterans, and a million and a half South Vietnamese allies, as well as our allies from Australia, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines, who fought and died in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.

Vietnamese refugees fleeing communism in April 1975.

We must never forget their sacrifice.

This anniversary is also a time to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Vietnamese Americans have made to our nation and to our shared American way of life.

Large-scale immigration from Vietnam to the United States began in April 1975, when the fall of Saigon led to the U.S.-sponsored evacuation of an estimated 125,000 Vietnamese refugees.

Many of these initial post-war immigrants first arrived in America at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, which is now the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

As the humanitarian crisis and displacement of people in the Indochina region (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) intensified, more refugees and their families were admitted to the United States.

Honored to stand with our Vietnamese friends and the Vietnamese community at Black April ceremony in Little Saigon.

The Vietnamese immigrant population has grown significantly since then, roughly doubling every decade between 1980 and 2000, and then increasing 26 percent in the 2000s. In 2017, more than 1.3 million Vietnamese resided in the United States, accounting for 3 percent of the nation’s 44.5 million immigrants and representing the sixth-largest foreign-born group in the country.

We must also use this anniversary to renew our commitment to ensure that human rights and freedom are one day respected in Vietnam.

Like many people in Orange County, I have been moved to tears by the heartbreaking stories of the suffering of many of my Vietnamese friends and their families — stories of their tremendous struggles and their remarkable strength in coming to this country as refugees in one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

We must never forget the incredible hardships they endured and never cease to admire their courageous determination to live in freedom.

Join Me on the Next Irvine Food Tour: Phans 55 Vietnamese Bistro and Bar

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Please join me as we continue our Irvine Food Tour, showcasing and sharing our wonderful cultural diversity in Irvine as expressed in scores of amazing local restaurants and markets featuring cuisines as diverse as Irvine’s population.

Irvine is home to scores of remarkable locally-owned restaurants featuring cuisine as diverse as Irvine’s population. But many people who live in Irvine are not aware of the great restaurants we have, or perhaps they’re a little uncertain about trying food they perhaps have not eaten before. That is why I created the Irvine Food Tour, where we visit a local restaurant and the owner or chef selects the menu and explains the food as it is brought to us.

The Irvine Food Tour is also a great way to support local businesses and to connect local business owners with the community.

Our next Irvine Food Tour Destination is Phans 55, a Vietnamese Bistro and Bar.

As the home of more than 200,000 people of Vietnamese heritage, Orange County has hundreds of restaurants specializing in Vietnamese cuisine.  You can find restaurants featuring traditional dishes from every region and city in Vietnam. Irvine’s Phans 55, a family owned and operated restaurant, takes a slightly different approach: Vietnamese cuisine with a modern flare.

The menu is built around the healthy, fresh, distinctive cuisine of Vietnam, as beautiful as it is delicious.

OC Metro Magazine has raved about Phan 55’s “quality of the locally sourced food and the outstanding diversity of inspiring flavors.” OC Coast Magazine promised its readers that they “will love Phans 55, a sexy Vietnamese bistro and bar that serves healthy Vietnamese and focuses on the green movement.”

Our hosts and guides will be owners Tom and Susie Phan, who bring to Phans 55’s wonderful cuisine many years of technique and training passed on from generation to generation.

As always they’ll be great food and great conversation!

There are vegetarian and kid-friendly options.  Each diner will purchase their own items from the menu.

As Tom and Susie Phan have said, “it is through eating that we can take a moment and listen to each other’s lives. Food always has this magical element that can bond different people from different backgrounds together. ”

We could not agree more!

What: Irvine Food Tour with Commissioner Melissa Fox

When: Monday, April 4, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Phans 55, a Vietnamese Bistro and Bar. 6000 Scholarship, Irvine CA 92612

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

Seating is limited, so please reserve your spot as soon as possible by calling me at 949-683-8855 or emailing me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com.

See you there!

Please note:  Commissioner Melissa Fox’s Irvine Food Tour is the creation of Melissa Fox and Dr. Catherine Liu, based on their love of Irvine’s many cultures and cuisines and their desire to share Irvine’s many wonderful cultures and cuisines with you, and is not an official activity or event of the City of Irvine

Remembering the Anniversary of Black April and Honoring Those Who Fled to Freedom

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April 30th is the anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.  It is a time to remember and honor our more than 58,000 fallen and missing soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, our half a million Vietnam War veterans, and a million and a half South Vietnamese allies, as well as our allies from Australia, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines, who fought and died in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.

We must never forget their sacrifice.

Rescued refugees fly the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, 1980.

This anniversary is also a time to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Vietnamese Americans have made to our nation and to our shared American way of life.

We must also use this anniversary to renew our commitment to ensure that human rights and freedom are one day respected in Vietnam.

Like many people in Orange County, I have been moved to tears by the heartbreaking stories of the suffering of many of my Vietnamese friends and their families — stories of their tremendous struggles and their remarkable strength in coming to this country as refugees in one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

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Honored to stand with our Vietnamese friends and the Vietnamese community at Black April ceremony in Westminster.

We must never forget the incredible hardships they endured and never cease to admire their courageous determination to live in freedom.

Remembering Black April, the Fall of Saigon and Honoring Those Who Fled to Freedom

Black April, Vietnamese boat people, Melissa Fox, Melissa Fox for Irvine, melissafoxblog.comApril 30, 2014, is the 39th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.  It is a time to remember and honor our more than 58,000 fallen and missing soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, our half a million Vietnam War veterans, and a million and a half South Vietnamese allies, as well as our allies from Australia, South Korea, Thailand, New Zealand and the Philippines, who fought and died in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.

We will never forget their sacrifice.

Rescued refugees fly the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, 1980.

Today is also a time to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions that Vietnamese Americans have made to our nation and to our shared American way of life, and to renew our commitment to ensure that human rights and freedom are one day respected in Vietnam.

Like many people in Orange County, I have heard heartbreaking stories of the suffering of many of my Vietnamese friends and their families, of their tremendous struggles and their remarkable strength in coming to this country as refugees in one of the largest mass migrations in modern history.

We will never forget the incredible hardships they endured and never cease to admire their courageous determination to live in freedom.