Vietnamese Americans are calling out California Governor Gavin Newsom for some ignorant comments he made about nail salons.
During a news conference in Garden Grove on Thursday, Newsom casually remarked that the spread of COVID-19 in California began in a nail salon, reports the OC Register.
“This whole thing started in the state of California, the first community spread, in a nail salon,” Newsom said in response to a question from a reporter. “I’m very worried about that.”
Newsom did not specify which salon he was referring to.
Members of the Vietnamese American community in Orange County found the comments both surprising and disappointing. Community leaders pointed out that such pronouncements only add fuel to the growing anti-Asian sentiment.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Orange County community leader Tammy Tran lamented how “The xenophobia is growing as much as the pandemic.”
Tam Nguyen, who presides as the president of Advance Beauty College in Garden Grove and Laguna Hills, noted how Newsom’s comments could result in discrimination against the Vietnamese-run salons and also cause customers to stay away once the shops eventually open.
Defending his remarks on Friday, Newsom said he did not intend to condemn the industry.
“It’s just a factual statement and it was not a statement to be extrapolated as an indictment, quite the contrary of an industry I deeply respect,” Newsom said.
Kelvin Pham, who co-produced a documentary exploring the history of the Vietnamese Nail Salon called “Nailed It,” has asked Newsom for proof of his claim, reports ABC7.
“Where’s the proof? We all lost, we’re still waiting,” said Pham.
“I think my brain stopped working and I was saying, what the hell? I never heard anything like that before,” he noted. “Second thought is the impact, the impact of his remark, what it can have not only on the nail industry, but particularly the Vietnamese nail industry. We came here to this country as refugees, left our country, not because we want to but because we had to.”
“I hope people will not take this remark and use it to take down an industry that is so amazing that provides so much opportunities for this group of refugees,” Pham was quoted as saying.
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