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Huntington Beach group joins forces to fight anti-Asian hate with benefit concert

Members of a group hold a banner as an airplane skywrites "No Hate."
A group protesting anti-Asian hate speech and violence meets outside Whale Spa Salon Furniture in Huntington Beach on Friday as an airplane skywrites “No Hate” at the end of a news conference called by the group Nailing It for America.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

The six letters were written by airplane about 11,000 feet above Huntington Beach on Friday.

Kien Nguyen looked overhead and smiled.

“No Hate,” the letters spelled out against the bright blue sky.

That’s a goal for the Fountain Valley resident, 76, who is a grandmother of six. Nguyen said she paid for the skywriting herself to send that message.

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“I’m not working now, I’m retired, but I still have a little bit of my savings,” she said. “I can do it.”

The gesture is a symbol of the local Asian American community‘s effort to go beyond just words to try to stop anti-Asian hate speech and violence.

The skywriting came at the end of a news conference at Whale Spa Salon Furniture in Huntington Beach. Local volunteer group Nailing It for America, co-founded by Kien Nguyen’s son Tam, announced it is joining Thuy Nga Productions to present a global benefit concert online.

Kien Nguyen, 76, right, receives a hug from her son Tam Nguyen.
Nailing It for America co-founder Tam Nguyen hugs his mother Kien Nguyen, 76, before speaking at a news conference addressing anti-Asian rhetoric and violence at Whale Spa Salon Furniture in Huntington Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

The concert, designed to combat hatred against Asians, will be broadcast in coordination with Vietface TV from 5 to 8 p.m. Pacific on April 24. All proceeds will go to fight anti-Asian rhetoric and violence, as well as provide services for vulnerable community members through the Orange County United Way.

The concert is called “We Must Look Up: Rising Above Hate With Love,” the same name as a recent op-ed piece Kien Nguyen wrote in Vietnamese. Donors can contribute to the performance online at Orange County United Way in English or in Vietnamese.

Ted Nguyen (no relation to Kien), another co-founder of Nailing It for America, said the organization has hosted 10 events such as candlelight vigils and rallies in the last three weeks.

“We’re tired of it,” Ted Nguyen said. “The awareness is important, but beyond the hashtag #StopAsianHate, we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to channel people’s anger and frustration and fear into positive energy, so that we can get money to arm front-line workers to protect our most vulnerable community members against hate. We want them to have all of the necessary resources that they need in order to protect their families, protect themselves and protect all of us.”

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Ted Nguyen, left, a "Nailing It for America" co-founder, invites Kien Nguyen, 76, to speak during Friday's press conference.
Ted Nguyen, left, a “Nailing It for America” co-founder, invites Kien Nguyen, 76, center, to speak during a press conference addressing #StopAsianHate to tackle anti-Asian rhetoric and violence at Whale Spa Salon Furniture in Huntington Beach on Friday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Alison Edwards, chief executive of the nonprofit Orange County Human Relations, said at the news conference that hate incidents targeting the local Asian American and Pacific Islander community increased by 10 times in 2020 compared with 2019. The recent incidents compelled the Huntington Beach City Council to pass an item denouncing hate speech, and another denouncing white supremacy, at Monday’s meeting.

A massive crowd of protestors and counter-protesters swarmed the streets near the Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday for a so-called White Lives Matter rally but dispersed after police declared an unlawful assembly as clashes between anti-racism demonstrators, Donald Trump supporters and others showing allegiance to white supremacist groups grew increasingly hostile.

Edwards said the hate speech against Asian Americans shows no signs of stopping. She mentioned that karate champion Sakura Kokumai, who is preparing to represent the United States at the 2021 Olympic Games, was recently verbally accosted at Grijalva Park in Orange. Kokumai is Japanese American.

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“Whenever I have the chance, I encourage people to report hate activity wherever you see it,” Edwards said. “If you don’t want to report to us, there are trusted leaders in whatever community you’re in.”

The virtual concert on April 24 will feature international celebrities and entertainers, including Y Lan, Hoai Tam and Huong Thuy.

Lan, a Vietnamese singer who lives in Fountain Valley, spoke out against anti-Asian hate at Friday’s news conference.

“Asian people, we’re here in America for our dreams,” she said. “We’re here to bring up our children, to bring up our grandchildren, the next generation. We want them to live a better a life, to make America better, so there’s no way we can accept this. We need to stop the hate.”

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