After the mass shootings at the massage parlors in Atlanta, I worry about the nail salons run by Vietnamese Americans. I have friends and family members work at the salons. I have also seen disturbing video clips of angry customers beating up the workers and destroying the properties. In her recent op-ed, Lý Trần recounts her bad days at the nail salon:
Like the time when, after a long day of work, a man brandishing a knife walked in, pushed my mother hard against the wall, the tip of the blade at her throat, and demanded that she empty her pockets, robbing her of the little money that she’d worked so hard to make. That was a bad day.
Or that time when a customer wrecked our salon, breaking nail-polish bottles, throwing chairs, and flinging acetone in our faces because she didn’t want to pay for the service she received. That was a bad day.
That time when, on the evening of the Fourth of July, after a long day of painting red, white, and blue nails for our customers, explosive fireworks were suddenly and violently thrown into our salon by a group of boys jeering racial slurs, our carpet catching on fire, and my mother and I scrambling to put it out. Since then, Independence Day, a day of supposed freedom, holds a different meaning for me. That was a bad day.
And those times when I had to stand by while a customer berated my mother, treated her like a subhuman servant instead of the kind and beautiful person that I know her to be. Those were bad days.
That time when, coming home from the salon, at the age of 13, I was sexually assaulted by a man who believed he was entitled to my body. That was a truly horrific day.
All the times we’ve been called racial epithets, denied our basic humanity, and feared for our lives in the presence of bigots.
The history of violence in these salons concerned me deeply. If we don’t #StopAsianHate, it is just a matter of time that some racist lunatics will shoot up the nail salons. Let’s be pro-active just in case someone has a bad day.