An Ethnic Media Refresh in 2023 on Thursday, August 31, 2023

By Hong Nguyen-Phuong

Lest we forget, we have lived under a COVID-19 State of Emergency for three years until February 2023, until this year. Much has changed in that time, often painfully, for individuals and families, for businesses, and yes also for nonprofits and media organizations. Especially ethnic media. With funding and revenues dried up, indeed some didn’t make it through to the end.Meanwhile, are our communities faring better?

Now that we are past the COVID emergency, what’s up with the rich diverse ethnic communities in California, beyond the rich diverse Asian American communities of California that we serve? People grew older toward or past retirement; most are less fit. Many are more worried or depressed, maybe isolated and physically threatened. The rhetoric on capitol steps, in mainstream media, and on social media have remained bellicose. And there’s hate crime, including against innocent Asian Americans, with fatalities.

On the world stage, there’s a year-and-a-half-long war with repeated threats of use of nuclear weapons. The two largest superpowers keep sustaining their aggressive rhetoric. No side shows any appetite for toning down. And so there’s more hate crime against innocent Asian Americans.

On August 31, we traveled to Sacramento where ethnic media and State and Federal officials converged in a Conference hosted by Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media. A unique opportunity to see who is still around among fellow ethnic media, who is new, and what they are up to. Also a unique opportunity to gauge if lawmakers and officials pay any heed to the plight of ethnic groups.

Left to right: Hong Nguyen-Phuong and Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV arriving at the Ethnic Media Conference in Sacramento, August 31, 2023.

Left to right: Julian Do of Ethnic Media Services; Vijay Rajvaidya and Vandana Kumar of India Currents; and Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV.

What we have uncovered was more diverse people advocating for and serving the needs of people greater diversity.

Left to right: Hong Nguyen-Phuong of Ding Ding TV, with Prem Pariyar whose advocacy for caste-based protection led to the passing of SB 403.

Left to right: Hong Nguyen-Phuong of Ding Ding TV, with Ruslan Gurzhiy whose digital social media platform Slavic Sacramento serves English- and culturally challenged Russian, Ukrainian, Belarussian… immigrants vulnerable to scams and exploitation right in their own community.

Left to right: Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV, with Helen Zia who founded the Vincent Chin Institute to inform and educate Asian Americans about protecting against hate crime (at the height of aggressive rhetoric against Japanese imports in the 80s, Chinese American Vincent Chin was killed by two fellow autoworkers who were let free with a mere $3,000 fine).

In that day-long Conference, government officials at maintained continued engagement with multiple groups, elaborating on their programs and initiatives, answering questions, and exchanging open dialogues. In particular Dr. Robert Santos, U.S Census Director, kept reiterating his Department’s mission to empower communities with data products. Answering Ding Ding TV, he said regular dialogues with local communities and their leaders are indeed necessary to fulfil the Department’s goal of providing data empowerment. He also supported the perspective that local stories will infuse more meaning to the statistics.

The Census report coming out at the end of September 2023 will provide a unique glimpse into the incredible diversity of our nation, with detailed counts of over 300 race ethnicities; breaking down into age, sex, and race/ethnicity; cascading from national, down to state, county, city.

U.S. Census Director Robert Santos

Left to right: Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV, and California State Controller Malia Cohen on the same side of the camera this one time.

Left to right: Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV moderating; Marcela Rodriguez, Senior Advisor for Civic Engagement and Strategic Partnerships, Office of the Governor; Michelle Baass, Director of Department of Health Care Services; and Susan DeMarois, Director of Department of Aging.

Left to right: Susan DeMarois, Director of California Department of Aging; Shirley Weber, Secretary of State; and Cheryl Brown, Chair of California Commission on Aging.

Left to right: Sandy Close of Ethnic Media Services; Vijay Rajvaidya and Vandana Kumar of India Currents; and Diana Ding of Ding Ding TV.

In closing, State Controller Malia Cohen said that ethnic media is closing the gap and giving a voice to those who feel invisible sometimes. Ethnic Media Services Executive Director Sandy Close shared with us that the tide is turning, that lawmakers and elected officials have now felt the power of a united ethnic media.

2023 is right between a 2022 under COVID lockdown, and a 2024 election year. Ethnic media would do well to stay close to their community, and close to each other. That is our commitment to you, and our commitment to ourselves.

Note: Watch our video coverage of this event on our YouTube Channel.



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