A few weeks ago, I was routinely driving to the NVC Memorial Hall. Just one block away, I prepared to take the left turn from Rainier Avenue onto King Street, when I was startled to see a tall man standing right in front of me – completely naked with his arms straight up in the air. Although for entirely different reasons, we both did a double take and paused for a split second.
He then started snarling at me with hate in his eyes, while swinging his arms, fists and other appendages, and yelling at the top of his lungs in my direction. I perceived a slur, then swerved around him feeling a mixture of laughter and fear. It’s not often you run into a naked man in the middle of the road with not a stitch of clothes on, but scary was that look of hate as he raged and ranted in that moment.
Then a few days later, maybe six blocks from the NVC Hall, a teacher named Noriko Nasu was viciously attacked and sustained multiple fractures to her head and face. She was out for a relaxing stroll in Chinatown, when an assailant came from behind and nearly killed her.
Being so close to our NVC home, I reflected on this horrible incident as being one of the estimated 3,000 attacks that have been focused on persons of Asian ancestry across the country since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, in 2020 hate crimes generally decreased by 7% across 16 of America’s largest cities. However, those targeting Asian people doubled, and in some areas like New York City, they rose by 833%. These attacks have only accelerated in 2021, as an elderly Asian grandfather was killed in San Francisco as a result of one of these senseless and cowardly attacks.
Over this past year, while our entire country has suffered from the coronavirus, our Asian Communities have also suffered from “The Racism Virus,” according to NBC news correspondent Vicky Nguyen in her special report by that name. I clearly recall our former President making racist, mocking comments about the “China virus” and the “kung flu,” followed by countless members of his administration and party repeating those same racist slurs like ventriloquist dummies.
Thankfully, our current President and his administration have denounced these “xenophobic attacks.” Young people have started to organize security patrols and demonstrations to condemn these attacks on members of our Community. They are advocating for members of all Communities and ethnicities to Stand Together, Speak Up and Speak Out.
I stand with them in speaking out to Stop AAPI Hate.
Focusing on the NVC Foundation, I’d like to congratulate the newly elected Officers and Board Members and express my thanks for their commitment. Once again due to COVID-19, we will not be recognizing them in a formal Installation Banquet this year. However, we did jump right into work, as we just completed two non-profit Board training sessions taught by the 501 Commons organization that will help us implement “best practices” in the governance of the Foundation in 2021.
I’d also like to recognize Geri Lynne Egeler, 2nd Vice-President of the Foundation, for receiving the NVC Commander and NVC Foundation Presidents Award. Over the last two years, Geri Lynne has spent countless hours at the NVC Memorial Hall in service of our organizations, and we thank her for her commitment and support.
In addition, I’d like to extend our recognition and thanks to the Sugamura family. Our condolences on the passing of Pentson Sugamura Sr., who served the NVC for many years. His legacy of service has been carried forward by his son Pentson Sugamura Jr., or as we call him “PJ”, who now serves as the Treasurer for both the NVC and the NVC Foundation.
Ours is a volunteer-based organization and is sustained through the many extraordinary people of the NVC Foundation and NVC who graciously contribute their time in service to our Community.