Nail salon business owner in Riverside receives hateful, anti-Asian letter

Local news

A Riverside business owner was shocked to receive a hate-filled letter telling her to leave the United States because she’s Asian.

“It hurts. It hurts really deep because I’m also a veteran,” the business owner, who asked KTLA to refer to her as Jackie to protect her identity, said through tears. “I served my country, and I’m willing to die for it. Now they’re telling me to go home. This is my home.”

Jackie grew up in Riverside where her family owns a nail salon. She said they received the hateful letter filled with racial slurs in the mail over the weekend.

Not much of the expletive-filled letter can even be repeated, but it starts with the phrase “TO ALL ASIAN” and contains many racial epithets, offensive physical stereotypes and references to leaving the country, saying things like “You don’t belong here” and “No one wants you here.”

“MOST OF YOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL THIS WAY” the letter said. “THEY JUST HAVE TO PRETEND TO LIKE YOU! BUT NOONE CAN STAND HOW UGLY, SMELLY AND DISGUSTING YOU ARE!!!”

The sender urged Jackie to post the letter, most of which is typed in capital letters, in her business “SO ALL YOUR WORKERS & CUSTOMERS CAN SEE IT!”

“It was really nasty and vile,” Jackie said. “My family has a lot of history connecting us to the United States.”

She said her mother, who was born to an Asian mother and a Black U.S. military father, came to the United States in 1989 and was often picked on for being mixed-race. Her grandmother also worked in the naval shipyards when the American forces were stationed in Vietnam, Jackie added.

So when she read the part in the letter that said to “Go back to your country,” Jackie was speechless.

“It really hurt me because I was born and raised here,” Jackie said. “This is like my backyard.”

Officer Ryan Railsback with the Riverside Police Department said that the letter was “very disgusting” and that “nobody deserves to read something like that.”

Railsback said a “very similar, if not identical” letter was sent to another business in San Bernardino County.

“We believe that this is probably someone who sent just kind of like a boilerplate note, or letter, out to various people or businesses,” he said. 

Riverside police are investigating this as a hate incident, which comes on the heels of another hate letter that was sent to a grieving widow in Seal Beach.

Neighbors and community members held a rally Wednesday to support the Choi family after losing their patriarch, Byong Choi. His grieving wife received a handwritten hate letter Monday that was mailed to their home at the retirement community, Leisure World.

Seal Beach police are investigating whether a hate crime occurred after the Choi family was sent the handwritten, anonymous letter — postmarked on the day of Byong Choi’s funeral — telling his widow to “watch out” and “go back to your country where you belong.”

The racist letters sent to the Choi family and Jackie came days after a gunman killed eight people, including six Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas. The letters also came during a coronavirus pandemic when Asian Americans have increasingly become targets of verbal and physical attacks, with some people blaming them for the virus because it first emerged in China.

Law enforcement agencies are encouraging the public to report all hate incidents.

Meanwhile, Jackie said she’s no longer afraid and is speaking out to encourage other victims of hate to speak out as well.

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