Warning: Some readers may find content in this article disturbing
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hoa Nguyen is a 2nd-generation Vietnamese American. She works at Portland Public Schools and is running to become the first Asian American to serve on the David Douglas School Board.
But 3 days after the Atlanta mass killings that left 6 Asian women dead, she said she received a hate note on her doorstep.
“As an Asian American woman and being a leader in my community, I was still sitting and processing the whole events,” Nguyen told KOIN 6 News. “On Friday, March 19 around 6 a.m. I received a hate note at my door step.”
She checked her door bell camera and didn’t see anything. “When I opened up the door I found a note written in Sharpie on a white piece of paper that said, ‘Kung Flu.'”
For many Asian Americans that term — “Kung Flu” — is hurtful and derogatory.
“It’s perpetrating harm in the community. It allows for folks to utilize that and weaponize it. It’s rooted in white supremacy,” said Marchel Hirschfield, the political director for APANO. “While it may not seem so detrimental to some folks, for others we are really impacted by policies, the hate that’s instigated through something deemed such as simple words.”
Hoa’s close friends and coworkers encouraged her to report the note. She reached out to the Oregon Department of Justice.
“It was the Department of Justice that contacted me back and encouraged me to make a formal police report,” she told KOIN 6 News.
Hoa also filed reports with the community coalition Portland United Against Hate as well as the Portland Police.
“I would always encourage anyone to report such and incident, because it may help in the investigation at some later date if a crime is ever committed. Nobody should be subjected to such a thing or should be made to feel unsafe in their own home, neighborhood, or anywhere else,” said Sgt. Kevin Allen, Portland Police Bureau.
The DOJ bias hotline received 36 reports of anti-Asian bias in March. Of those, 21 were reported as hate crimes.
She wants to share the importance of reporting these incidents because the more reports means there is more documentation.
“We don’t have to suffer in silence with hate crime. Hate crime isn’t just about physical safety and I think the reason I wanted to let it go was because I wasn’t initially physically harmed. But over time it does affect you mentally.”
After she received it, she checked in on her neighbors, one of them is Asian and he did not receive a note. Nguyen is not sure why she received the note, but believes it may be because she is running for the school board.
“Part of making change is having representation in leadership, to make changes in a system that work every student, especially students of color,” she said.
She’s hoping to make a difference.
“We can fight this together. Don’t tolerate any form of hate. It doesn’t have to be physical but any form of hate, whether if it’s a note, whether if it’s a microaggression, bias — those are all forms of hate.”