A renowned Vietnamese American MC has recounted her first taste of racism in a YouTube video that empowers others to take action against offenders.
Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen, or simply Ky Duyen, is known in both Vietnam and Vietnamese communities internationally as the daughter of South Vietnam’s former Vice President and Prime Minister, Nguyen Cao Ky. She has lived in Southern California for 45 years, but it was only recently that she experienced discrimination — and right in her new home in Huntington Beach.
The incident involved a White man living in an apartment complex next to Ky Duyen’s home. At the time, two of her friends — who are also Vietnamese — had come over to perform a song in her yard.
Ky Duyen stressed that the music was soft since her friends were just lip-syncing. Somehow, the man took offense and launched a racist tirade that lasted for hours.
“He was screaming from his balcony over to my front yard,” Ky Duyen recalled. “He’d been screaming for like two or three hours.”
She managed to record parts of the man’s vitriol. “Jesus Christ! How many Asians do you [unintelligible]?” he yelled at one point.
In another clip, the man is seen shouting at an Asian male.
“Shut the f*ck up you Asian! Bad things are gonna start happening. I can promise you [unintelligible] that,” the man threatened. “Get that on camera.”
After recording the man’s tirade, Ky Duyen called the police. A patrol car arrived 15 minutes later and officers knocked on the man’s door.
“Immediately he said he’s drunk, he had a bit too much, [he was] sorry,” she recalled.
However, Ky Duyen discovered that “somebody” had thrown an egg on her balcony the next day. This prompted her to call the police again.
Ky Duyen cited definitions of a “hate crime” and “vandalism” to educate the public. She also advised against calling 911 — instead, those with similar concerns should contact a non-emergency hotline.
“Why do I keep calling the police and why should we all do the same thing? It’s because you want to have records,” said Ky Duyen, who is also a California attorney. “You want to have evidence that this person has done this before and you want to preserve all evidence for later, if it escalates to the point you’re harmed or anybody in your family is harmed.”
After the incidents, Ky Duyen installed security cameras all around her house. Two weeks later, the idea of constant surveillance wore the man down.
“The guy came over, called it a truce and apologized,” Ky Duyen said. “Not only did he admit that he was drunk, [but that] he was out of line, [and] he apologized.”
Ky Duyen forgave the man, but she holds him accountable for his words. She also pointed out that racists like him are a minority.
“The minute he started screaming at me that night, all of the neighborhood came out and they stood up for me. They told him to ‘Shut up,’ ‘Don’t do that’ and ‘Go back in the house,'” Ky Duyen recalled. “They told me that this guy has been a troublemaker for all of the neighborhood.”
She added, “We have nothing to be afraid of. The majority of Americans are not like that. That’s not what America is about.”
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