In a meeting with few cameras and little fanfare, California Gov. Gavin Newsom met with Asian American nonprofit leaders in Orange County on Thursday, March 25.
Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim, founder of the Korean-American Center, was invited to the meeting, which was held at St. Anselm Episcopal Church in Garden Grove.
Kim said the last minute meeting was led by the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, along with a half-dozen other Asian American nonprofits. Kim added that St. Anselm was selected for its historic legacy within the Asian American community.
“It was a really small group, a representative for each group,” Kim explained in an interview with Irvine Weekly on Friday, March 26. “And the significance of St. Anselm church in Garden Grove is that it is both a Korean and Vietnamese Episcopal church – it was the launching point for many of the Vietnamese refugees when they had come to Orange County back in 1975.”
In a statement provided to Irvine Weekly on Friday, March 26, Newsom said he was honored to be able to listen and conversate directly with API leaders in Orange County. Adding that there is no place for hateful rhetoric in California or the nation.
“Hate has no place in California and the recent attacks against the AAPI community are reprehensible. I stand with AAPI Californians – and AAPI communities across the country experiencing these senseless acts of violence,” Newsom said in a statement to Irvine Weekly. “It was my pleasure to hear directly from Orange County leaders about their experiences as well as their resilience in the face of these difficult circumstances.”
Reflecting on the meeting, Kim said Newsom made it a goal to discuss the hardships currently being experienced by the Asian American community nationwide, including access to services like health care, and of course the increased racism and hate crimes toward the community.
Kim added that the Asian community is the third largest community in the country, and is currently the fastest growing demographic within Orange County.
“We had a discussion regarding the issue impacting our community, which includes access to health care, access to human services … the expansive nuances of our histories and generational change that’s happening in Orange County, and obviously the hate and xenophobia that exists,” Kim explained. “A lot of the nonprofit organizations here in Orange County are beholden to the Orange County Board of Supervisors, who often can act as a middle man when it comes to funding your resources for the community.”
Kim, who met for the first time with Newsom while he was campaigning for California governor, said he spent most of the meeting listening to what community leaders had to say about the issues impacting the Asian American demographic, adding that his feedback was positive.
Additionally, considering Newsom’s recent appointment of Rob Bonta, the first Asian-American California Attorney General, Kim said the appearance was well timed.
“It was extremely meaningful, because he could’ve used it as a photo opp, as a press [opportunity] – and he didn’t,” Kim said. “He did not use this as a tokenizing opportunity – he used it as an opportunity to really understand what was happening at ground zero.”