PEOPLE's Voices from the Coronavirus Crisis will share firsthand accounts of the people facing unique challenges during a global pandemic

By Diane J. Cho
April 16, 2020 05:45 PM
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Vicky Nguyen is an NBC News Investigative and Consumer Correspondent based in New York. Prior to joining NBC News in 2019, Nguyen was a reporter at NBC Bay Area station KNTV, where her investigative reporting has led to multiple state and federal investigations and to changes in national policies. Nguyen has received numerous awards for her reporting, including a National Emmy, the Gerald Loeb Award for Business and Financial Journalism and the duPont Columbia Award for Broadcast Journalism. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their three daughters. To view Nguyen’s reporting, tune into TODAY, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and visit NBCNews.com.

This has been one of the most surreal times for me to be a journalist, a new resident of New York City and the spouse of an anesthesiologist. It’s the confluence of these three things in this period of history that means, every day, multiple times a day, I’m struck by what we are all living through together.

I’m very grateful that I’ve gotten to cover the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since the beginning, because it has afforded me the ability to have my arms wrapped around multiple aspects of the current health crisis. From daily life advice and the very practical questions that our viewers are asking us on social media, to sharing what is safe and not safe to do, I feel like I’m experiencing these uncertain times with everyone, but doing the extra homework and research to give people the most up-to-date advice on how to power through as new information is shared by health experts and from our state and federal leaders.

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As the trajectory of the pandemic changes each day, it’s very easy to feel helpless and scared, especially if you are of Asian decent. The recent increase in anti-Asian attacks, plus President Donald Trump calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus” (after world health leaders had urged people not to call it by that name knowing it would inflame discriminatory acts), made me want to speak up about my own experience with racism and the harsh realities of what is taking place today in an Op-Ed I wrote for NBC News. As an Asian-American journalist, I definitely felt a responsibility to do so, but I’m also frustrated. I’m frustrated because the response from the public hasn’t been on par with what I think it should be.

As of late March, over 650 racist acts against Asians were reported in just one week, according to data taken from a new online reporting forum created by the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council. While I do believe law enforcement is doing an incredible job responding to these reports in a timely manner, I feel frustrated because we’re not getting a lot of law enforcement who are willing to speak on the record about these issues. (I can only assume it is because they fear it will encourage more crimes.) I would also like to see more activism from our celebrities and politicians.

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When you see discrimination start to manifest itself into physical violence at alarming rates, it is all of our responsibilities to speak out. We should be banding together to discuss these issues to help amplify more voices. I also hope that when people hear about these stories, they will speak up and be allies.

I’ve been very heartened by some of the social media postings I’ve seen where someone else is stepping up to speak for a person who’s being attacked. I know there’s a lot of good in the world and we all want to do the right thing. By helping amplify these messages of hope and solidarity, we can be changemakers with how we treat people of all backgrounds.

As a journalist and mom to three young daughters, I can say that the best course of action is to take things one day at a time. If you have the opportunity to speak up against discrimination of any kind — not just for the Asian community but for all communities — you should. I should also add that my profession affords me the opportunity to reach a vast audience. I have an opportunity to share your stories with others, so please, share them with me. Let me speak on your behalf. Let me help amplify your voice.

  • As told to Diane J. Cho