Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Reckoning with anti-Asian racism


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, March 20.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Atlanta killings. A 21-year-old man killed eight people — including six women of Asian descent — in shootings at a string of Atlanta-area spas. Authorities said Wednesday that the attacks “did not appear to be” motivated by race, but rights groups have pushed back.

Anti-Asian racism. The Atlanta shootings came as a new report highlighted a rise in hate crimes and harassment toward Asian Americans. The violence has many questioning how far they have really come in their American journey, and some are taking new measures to protect themselves.

Vaccine expansion. Millions more Californians with underlying health conditions and disabilities are now eligible to get vaccinated. State officials are relying on public trust and honesty to make sure the doses get to those who need them most, though the supply is expanding.

New reopenings. Restaurants, movie theaters and gyms reopened in L.A. County, with further reopenings ahead for other counties. Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is scheduled to open April 30, while museums across the state are opening their doors.

One year since the shutdown. The reopenings come with memories of March 2020, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a stay-at-home order for California. Inside the decision to shut down the world’s fifth-largest economy.

LAPD scrutiny. The department is facing intense scrutiny on several fronts in its handling of protests last summer. Civil rights advocates say the demonstrations against police brutality and for racial justice have ushered in a “post-Rodney King environment.”

Newsom recall heats up. Backers of the effort to remove Newsom formally submitted the last of their petitions Wednesday. Democrats from California to Washington were readying what they hope will be a united front, as Newsom acknowledged the recall would probably make it to the ballot.

Becerra heads to D.C. Former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was narrowly confirmed as the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary on Thursday. The opening poses a new challenge for Newsom, who must appoint a successor.

Ethnic studies approved. After years of debate, the State Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved a model curriculum on the histories, struggles and contributions of Asian, Black, Latino and Native Americans for California students.


Ontario explosion. Two people died after a massive explosion set off by fireworks at an Ontario house rocked a residential neighborhood Tuesday. Bomb technicians found enough fireworks to fill dozens of large storage bins.

Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Times subscriber.

1. Here’s the full list of 2021 Oscar nominations. Los Angeles Times

2. Five Southern California trails that take you to the edge of the ocean. Los Angeles Times

3. The Los Angeles Times guide to hiking in L.A. Los Angeles Times

4. Cal Poly students threw a Saint Fratty’s Day party with no masks. Cal Coast News

5. Think you’ve tried every hike in L.A.? Think again. The Bridge to Nowhere awaits. Los Angeles Times


Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our game center at

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

From a tiny Canoga Park desk, a newspaper editor opens a window to chaotic Myanmar. Thakhin Kai Bwor, a web security specialist by day, moonlights as the editor of the Myanmar Gazette, the only Burmese-language newspaper in the U.S. Los Angeles Times

Why don’t we know more about the Atlanta shooting victims? A look at some of the logistical issues that have slowed the release of further information. Washington Post

“Life, the longest con.” On time, restlessness and a lost year. Exclusive Content

Poem of the week: “The Idea of Revelation” by Tina Chang. Poetry Foundation

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)