PORTLAND, Ore. — Hoa Nguyen is running for a seat on the David Douglas School Board. The 37-year-old will tell you she has the thick skin necessary for the job. The second-generation Vietnamese American will also tell you no amount of thick skin could shield her from what happened last month.
"It is happening," Nguyen said. "It is real and it's impacting the people around us."
Just a few days after the shooting deaths of the Asian Americans in Atlanta, Nguyen says there was a knock at the front door of her East Portland home. Nguyen opened the door to find a note with the phrase 'Kung Flu' on it.
"My first reaction was to let it go," Nguyen said. "It's what I've been conditioned to do in terms of when we encounter these bias incidents. My first thought is it's a prank. It's nothing. It's just a note."
Nguyen says the note rattled her to the point that friends convinced her to report it. Nguyen reported the incident to the Portland Police Bureau, Oregon Department of Justice, and Portland United Against Hate.
"I really encourage people to really report and not sit in silence when it comes to bias and hate crimes," Nguyen said. "When we talk about standing against hate, this is what it looks like. We don't tolerate hate. We also don't tolerate any form of hate."
Sadly, what happened to Nguyen is not unique. A study by the Center of Hate and Extremism at California State University indicates a 7% rise in hate crimes in 2020. Anti-Asian hate crimes spiked by 150%.
"I know what it feels like to feel scared," said Oregon State Rep. Khanh Pham.
Pham appeared on Laural Porter's Straight Talk. Pham says Oregon has seen its fair share of problems. She says rhetoric from national leaders is partly to blame.
"Over the last year and especially recently we've seen racism and hate play out in our communities in Oregon," Pham said. "We're seeing harassment, violence, a lot of fear in our communities."