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Lunar New Year Brings Hope For Asian Americans Racked With Hate Crimes: 'We Are A Resilient Community'

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — This is a time of year usually marked with parades and dancing, but you won't see all the pomp and circumstance this year.

Lunar New Year celebrations are canceled across Northern California due to the pandemic. Instead, many have spent the season cooking and preparing to celebrate at home with family.

"It is sad because we haven't got a chance to see our community members, our elders or our youth," said Tido Hoang, President of the Vietnamese American Community of Sacramento.

Hoang would usually be organizing a community-wide festival in South Sacramento.

"Instead of looking at the things we don't have out there, maybe look inside and be appreciative of what you do have at home," said Kimthy Tu, owner of Sushi Q.

Tu is staying positive after a difficult year. The pandemic has not just been hard on business. With the pandemic came an uptick in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, there were more than 800 hate crimes against Asian Americans in California within the first few months of the pandemic. More than 80 were physical assaults and more than 90 involved elderly Asian Americans.

Tu recalls hearing racist statements directed at her including, 'Go back to your country,' and 'You don't belong here.'

But while this different kind of Lunar New Year caps off a difficult year, it comes with the hope of a new beginning. Hoang says a prayer for his father who passed away six years ago. It's part of the tradition to remember ancestors while looking forward to the future.

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"We are a resilient community. A lot of us are refugees and immigrants who came with nothing and made ourselves to become patriotic Americans," said Hoang.

"Instead of looking down on us or blaming us for something they're not educated with, take care of yourself. Find happiness and love within yourself to work together because we're all in this together right?" said Tu.

Several California Assemblymembers have condemned the term 'China virus' when referring to COVID-19 and pledged to work with Stop AAPI Hate to follow the numbers for state policy and investments in curbing discrimination.  In the meantime, Hoang says the vaccine has brought hope for a better year.

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