NBC's Vicky Nguyen: Here's How We Can Combat Anti-Asian Racism Together

PEOPLE’s Voices from the Fight Against Racism will amplify perspectives on the push for equality and justice

PEOPLE Voices Vicky Nguyen
Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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. Follow Nguyen on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

It's surprising that people are still unaware of what's going on with the Asian community right now. It's been an entire year since we first began to see an alarming uptick in anti-Asian attacks, not only in the United States, but also in several countries across the globe.

I've seen tremendous support from other communities, journalists and public figures who've since been working tirelessly to advocate for the AAPI community, which continues to suffer from heinous verbal and physical assaults spurred by the pandemic.

However, as I engaged in conversations with people I knew and kept up with the steady stream of horrific stories that were being shared on social media but were not making national headlines, I realized that after some time, the focus on these anti-Asian attacks have only been growing within a microcosm.

Although we've made progress to put a spotlight on these issues, the need for mainstream media outlets to continue to cover these stories and to amplify the AAPI voices that speak for them remains as urgent as ever.

I feel fortunate to be in a role where I can help continue to bring these stories to a wider audience, and I feel inspired by this new generation of young activists who are using their voices to lead important discussions while organizing in their cities. I also feel energized by longtime activists like Amanda Nguyen, who has helped sphere head this movement to combat COVID racism, which is still being wildly underreported.

In February, Nguyen put out a video on Instagram where she directly addressed mainstream outlets and prominent journalists to demand that they cover these stories.

"We matter, and racism is killing us," she said in her clip, which has since garnered over 46,000 views.

A month later, Nguyen was invited to speak on CNN and was first issued an apology by CNN anchor John Vause for the network's lack of coverage on the matter. The moment struck a nerve that reignited a spotlight on these attacks.

As we work to keep uplifting each others stories, we must also consider the number of racially motivated attacks that have occurred and were not reported to police or advocacy groups like Stop AAPI Hate.

Over the weekend in Mountain View, California, a woman allegedly walked into an Easy Foods Company grocery store and refused to pay for her goods because the store owners were Asian. The owners called the police so the woman would have to leave the store but did not press charges. The police later received a call about the same woman allegedly yelling racial slurs at an Asian man having lunch before she spit in his direction. Both parties did not press charges against this woman, which goes to show that the number of incidents that have taken place is most likely a severe undercount. You'd have to consider several factors at play to understand why.

PEOPLE Voices Vicky Nguyen

There may be cultural barriers or language barriers that have made it extremely challenging to go to authorities. There may also be a lack in confidence with law enforcement, stemming from past experiences when victims have felt that they were not taken seriously or helped with any sense of urgency. The model minority myth has destructively reduced the AAPI community to being thought of as a successful monolithic group that doesn't experience hardships in comparison to other minorities — which is, of course, utterly untrue.

One way to move the needle forward on this issue is if both parties were to follow through with action to build trust. We must all do our part to help get these crimes reported, and law enforcement must take each case seriously, investigate thoroughly and take swift action.

As for crimes occurring in smaller cities that may not have the numbers or resources larger cities like New York or San Fransisco have, it's going to continue to take a collective effort from local journalists and community members to speak up for one another. Reach out to your local AAPI support groups and join in on conversations on social media through hashtags like #StopAsianHate, #StopAAPIHate and #HateIsAVirus. The more we share our stories, the more space we can create for each other.

The fact is that Asian Americans have experienced racism since our entry upon this country. We are also an extremely diverse community, which is why having these conversations are so important right now.

My hope is that more visibility and education will lead to unity and understanding. When we get to a place where we recognize how much of a shared history we all have, and that we've all experienced the brutality that can come from racism, we can all benefit from making sure that history does not repeat itself. Not everyone is in a position to donate to organizations or protest, but everyone can pick up a book, which is something Jeremy Lin told me recently in an interview that really resonated with me.

Keep on doing the work and lead with compassion. It's incumbent upon all of us to educate ourselves and each other to better understand and support the communities that we live in.

  • As told to Diane J. Cho

Vicky Nguyen will be hosting NBC News NOW and NBC Asian America present The Racism Virus, a streaming special which will air on NBC News NOW tonight (Wednesday, March 10) at 8 p.m. ET. The special will feature in-depth conversations with Margaret Cho, Jeremy Lin, Olivia Munn, Amanda Nguyen, CEO of NEXTSHARK Benny Luo and more.

If you've been attacked or have witnessed an attack, please contact your local authorities. You can also report your incident here.

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