If you’ve ever gotten your nails done in the city, you know that the one of the costs of a beautiful manicure is having to breathe noxious fumes for half an hour or so. But what if you had to spend all day breathing those odors? Many of the workers at our neighborhood salons, which are often owned and operated by Asian immigrant women, are exposed to toxic chemicals all day, and have very few resources for dealing with the health hazards related to those exposures. We talk to activists with the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, who are trying to change the industry from the inside by empowering workers to deal with the dangers they face on the job.
Julia Liou, Planning/Development Director at Asian Health Services and manager of California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
Hue Nguyen, Bay Area nail salon worker
Phuong An Doan Billings, Outreach Associate at Asian Health Services
It’s been decades since the US pulled out of Vietnam, but the environmental legacy of the invasion still lingers across the south of the country. During the 1960s, the US military doused the area with Agent Orange, the infamous herbicide that’s been linked to deep environmental damage and birth defects in the local population. Today, victims of Agent Orange are still seeking justice from the Pentagon, calling for medical aid and environmental remediation. The U.S. government recently rolled out a plan to help clean up some of the damaged areas. Activists with the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign are also pushing for legislation to compensate these victims.
For over a decade Filipino banana plantation workers have been battling Dole and other companies over claims of health damage from exposure to the pesticide DBCP, which was distributed in a region called Davao back in the 1980s. After trying unsuccessfully to sue first in Texas, and then in the Philippines, the workers recently tried to press their case again in a California court. They’ve joined a wave of lawsuits brought by Latin American workers who also accuse Dole of exposing them to toxic pesticides.
Claire Espina, attorney for Filipino banana workers
"Thao’s Vietnamese parents keep pushing her to marry – a man. Her other family – her Queer activist friends, coworkers, and community – wants her to come out. Thao doesn't want to do either!" What's a queer Vietnamese-American girl to do? We speak with Thao Nguyen about her one-dyke show, "Fortunate Daughter," co-directed by W. Kamau Bell and now playing at New York International Fringe Festival.
Thao Nguyen has been writing and performing solo shows since she joined the Solo Performance Workshop in 2007. She has been featured as a closing act at the San Francisco Theater Festival for three years running, and is a member of "DIS-ORIENTED: A trio of Middle Eastern and Asian American Women."