Letter to California Governor Newsom

To: Mr. Gavin Newsom, Governor of California. 1303 10th Street, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814

May 9, 2020

Subject: Protest the Governor’s recent statement that offends the nail business and the Vietnamese American Community.

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Dear Governor Newsom,

On behalf of the Vietnamese American Community of the USA (VAC-USA), we strongly protest your recent statement in regard to the Covid-19.

(Quote) “this whole thing started in the state of California, the first community spread, in a nail salon, … [I am] very worried about that.” (end quote)

We don’t have any information to verify the truth about the spreading of Covid-19 in your State of California, but we see in your statement the serious discrimination toward the nails business in which a high percentage of workers are Vietnamese Americans.

We are in no position to lecture you on the prudence in your speech.  But at least, a politician should think twice before speaking and know how to choose words properly in special circumstances in order to maintain the unity of the people in his/her care.

We are requesting you to withdraw your statement and send apologies to those your statement might offend. We are looking forward to your reply soon.

Respectfully yours,

Michael Do

Chairman of the Board of Directors

The Vietnamese American Community of the USA

Press Release

In Regard to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Statement that offends the Vietnamese Americans and Nail Business.

                During his daily COVID-19 briefing in Sacramento on Thursday, 7 May 20, Governor of California, Mr. Gavin Newsom said “This whole thing started in the State of California, the first community spread, in a nail salon. I just want to remind everybody of that and that I’m very worried about that”. After the provocative remark, Gov. Newsom declined on Friday to provide additional details about where the salon was located and how the state health officials traced the case. Despite requests from several civil and media organizations, Gov. Newsom defended his decision not to release further proof of his accusations because of health and privacy concerns.

                From his position, this remark was not just groundless, it is irresponsible and discriminatory. There are more than 10,000 nail and beauty small businesses in California where approximately 80 percent of these salons are owned and operated by Vietnamese Americans. Among the industries and businesses that are severely impacted by Coronavirus, small businesses are hardest hit and struggle tremendously to survive. The Congress and President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, understood how hard it is for a small business to stand during this time and passed several public laws, especially the H.R. 266, to particularly sustain the small business community.

                As an elected official and formerly a restaurateur, Gov. Newsom should understand the pain and struggle the nail and beauty salon owners are facing! His ridiculous remark during the state-wide briefing on COVID-19 did no good to the public, but contributed to further anxiety and even heightened fear in the state’s confused and mistrustful environment. On the following Friday, Gov. Newsom although addressed concerns that his comments could ultimately hurt the nail industry, he still proposed to keep the personal care services like the nail and beauty businesses included in the third phase of California’s reopening.

                We respectfully urge Gov. Newsom to recall his wrongful accusation; his remark was unjust and ultimately hurt the Vietnamese American community. In this difficult time, we should encourage industry responsibility and find cooperative solutions to rebuild our damaging economy not to deliver irresponsible blames. In the last two months, the nail and beauty workers and store owners are among the most generous groups of Vietnamese Americans. They have converted their nail shops into makeshift manufactures to create and donated hundreds of thousands of face masks to their community’s hospitals and medical clinics while their industry is hardest hit by the shutdown. Their act of patriotism and responsibility of the nail and beauty industry should be recognized.

                We also urge Gov. Newsom to reevaluate his reopening strategy applied for nail and beauty salons in California. With protective measures and continuous monitoring and adjustment, the nail and beauty industry can slowly reopen their business. Other states like Texas have allowed the personal services to restart with government support. These small businesses, which are familiar with state required protective measures, should have less issues in protecting their consumers and workers. Also, their rebuilding effort will help them less dependent of the state’s limited resources.