Posted on December 13, 2022

Why This Predominantly White County in Southern California Is Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis

Josh Campbell, CNN, December 8, 2022

Andrew Do was afraid to play sports his last two years of high school.

“I didn’t want to walk home alone after practices and be harassed, and beat up, and strangled,” he said in an interview with CNN.

After law school, while out running for exercise, he said motorists would throw bottles and batteries at him.

His constant fear: violent racism, “extreme hostility,” and physical assault.

Decades later, the refugee who arrived in the United States from Vietnam in the mid-1970s, is now a Republican member of the powerful Orange County, California, Board of Supervisors, yet continues to face vitriolic racism – even while seated on the dais at public government meetings.

At a Tuesday meeting of the Board of Supervisors in the once-solid Republican stronghold of Orange County, Do put forth a resolution taking a stance similar to many other counties in California and around the nation: declaring racism a public health crisis.


The resolution was unanimously adopted by the board, but was met with contempt by some audience members in attendance, with at least one heard on video yelling an ethnic slur.

During the public comments segment of the meeting, one speaker equated Do’s resolution with critical race theory – an academic concept that seeks to understand and address inequality and racism in the US, which has been maligned by many conservatives.

The Republican supervisor fired back at his critics, telling them, “For those of you who care enough to follow, I am far from the Left…so don’t get on your soap box and preach to me.”


Do told CNN the resolution declaring racism a public health crisis is more than symbolic, and will include a review of county government policies and operations by an ad hoc committee tasked with identifying potential practices of concern.

While he said he does not believe county governance operates under any policies that are inherently racist by design, the board of supervisors will be reviewing whether a “lack of understanding” or “inadvertence on our part may have adverse effect on ethnic communities.”

For example, Do said the review will include looking at the locations of county social services facilities, homeless shelters, and hospitals, to “lower barriers” and ensure underrepresented communities are not being inadvertently denied access.


In addition to identifying and mitigating possible systemic racism in county government, the Orange County board of supervisors also voted to condemn racist criminal acts against minorities that particularly spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic, writing in the resolution, “the County is deeply alarmed by the recent racially motivated attacks and violence on Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islanders and other communities.”


While official county figures have shown an increase in hate crimes since 2017, and the Covid-19 era has been replete with examples of brutal attacks on Asian Americans, Supervisor Do is circumspect when comparing racism in America today to what he experienced growing up as a young Vietnamese refugee.

“America is still the most accepting place in the world,” he says, and sees resolutions like the one he authored as “a step to make us a more perfect union,” quoting America’s founders.