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Stopping Asian American hate the goal of benefit concert

A group gathers on Friday holding a banner as an airplane skywrites "No Hate" at a "Nailing It for America" press conference.
A group gathers in front of Whale Spa Salon Furniture on Friday holding a large banner as an airplane skywrites “No Hate” at the end of a “Nailing It for America” press conference in Huntington Beach.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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

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 airplane writing out of her own pocket to send that message.

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

Now she can be proud that the local Asian-American community is going beyond just words to try to stop the anti-Asian hate speech and violence.

The air writing came at the conclusion of a press conference at Whale Spa Salon Furniture in Huntington Beach. Local volunteer group “Nailing It for America,” which was co-founded by Kien Nguyen’s son Tam, announced that it is joining with Grammy-winning Thuy Nga Productions to present a global benefit concert online.

Kien Nguyen, 76, right, receives a hug from her son Tam Nguyen, a "Nailing It for America" co-founder, on Friday.
Kien Nguyen, 76, right, receives a hug from her son Tam Nguyen, a “Nailing It for America” co-founder, before speaking 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)

The concert, designed to combat hatred against Asians, will be broadcast in coordination with VietFace TV from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 24. All proceeds will go to fight anti-Asian hate rhetoric and violence, as well as provide services for vulnerable community members via a fund through 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 that Kien Nguyen wrote in Vietnamese. Donors can contribute at UnitedWayOC.org/stopasianhate in English, or UnitedWayOC.org/vn in Vietnamese.

Ted Nguyen (no relation to Kien), another co-founder of “Nailing It for America,” said the organization has hosted 10 events like candlelight vigils and rallies in just 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.”

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 nonprofit Orange County Human Relations, said at the press conference that hate incidents targeting the local Asian American Pacific Islander community increased by 10 times in 2020 compared to 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 possible “White Lives Matter” rally is scheduled for the Huntington Beach Pier at 1 p.m. Sunday, two hours after a counter-rally co-organized by Black Lives Matter Huntington Beach founder Tory Johnson.

Edwards said the hate speech against Asian Americans shows no signs of stopping. She brought up 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.

“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, was at Friday’s press 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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