County supervisors pledging to condemn discrimination, intolerance against Asian Americans

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Jackie Wong spent part of Monday evening consoling her 12-year-old daughter who was distraught over the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that have been reported since the pandemic began. Across the country and right here in Yolo County, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have reported being both verbally and physically assaulted and accused of causing the COVID-19 pandemic or spreading the virus. Locally, Lisa Yep Salinas, a Woodland resident (and wife of the county’s clerk-recorder/assessor/registrar of voters, Jesse Salinas) reported being attacked multiple times at Woodland grocery stores as well as at a gym, where two women “tried to kick me out of the pool because they said I was spreading COVID-19.” Wong, meanwhile, a West Sacramento school board trustee, said her daughter “completely understood why her grandma would not leave the house. “She told me she believed that no one cared.” But Wong shared with her daughter on Monday evening that the Yolo County Board of Supervisors would be adopting a resolution the next day “to take a stand for people like me and kids like her.” “She was in awe,” Wong told county supervisors on Tuesday, “and asked that you continue to do this good work and to make sure that I asked you to not just adopt this because it is a trendy thing to do, but more importantly that there be action behind the words because kids like her are depending on people like you and me to create a world where she can feel safe.” The board did indeed adopt the resolution which pledges to condemn and combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans. In presenting the resolution to his colleagues, Supervisor Gary Sandy of Woodland said, “there’s nothing more distressing to hear than a child is fearful for their relatives, fearful for their own future, and we will not tolerate that as a Board of Supervisors in the county of Yolo.” To Salinas he said, “I’m sorry for what you’ve experienced, but the Board of Supervisors stands with you on this issue.” He and his colleagues pledged to back up the resolution with action as well, aimed particularly at prevention and education “It’s incumbent on us as a board to dedicate ourselves anew to these underserved communities which are under attack,” said Sandy. “(A)s the pandemic subsides, we’ll be participating more with those communities so that we can learn more, understand better and further cement the bond that exists between us.” Resolutions such as the one approved Tuesday by the board are not unusual, noted Supervisor Oscar Villegas of West Sacramento. But this should be different, he said. “It seems to me that this one requires… a larger conversation. Maybe we do something a little bit different in this instance to sort of highlight the importance of it and the fear that people are experiencing on a daily basis in light of what’s occurred,” said Villegas, who suggested a “coordinated effort to more broadly announce our disdain and our frustration with what is happening right here in our communities.” The effort has been broadly accepted — the Woodland City Council approved a similar resolution last week and several school boards in the county are preparing to do so as well. But supervisors expressed frustration that these waves of racism seem to continue unabated. Supervisor Angel Barajas of Woodland noted hostility in recent years towards immigrants — and Latinos in particular. “Unfortunately, in our country, certain people tend to scapegoat other groups and it just shows us that we as leaders have to put all of our resources into prevention, education and outreach so we can prevent this from occurring in the future, or at least mitigate it,” he said. Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis agreed. “It’s a problem that has been around for a while and I had thought when I was younger and working in civil rights that it would go away at some future date,” he said. “But it hasn’t, and it sometimes gets worse, and I think whenever it rears its ugly head, we have to jump into action.” He also noted that “if somebody is harassed or assaulted and the motivation is racial or ethnic animus, that is a hate crime. “And we’re not going to tolerate it.” Salinas praised the board for taking action and said since she began speaking out, she has heard from others who have experienced the same throughout the county, including in Davis. Said Barajas: “To our Asian and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters… we stand in solidarity with you.”

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