In honor of the American Jewish Committee’s 100th anniversary, the Orange County chapter held a panel discussion on ethnic diversity on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007 at 7:30 p.m. in the University Synagogue.
Six community leaders discussed the demographic change in Orange County, expressed their concerns about discrimination towards different ethnic groups and shared personal anecdotes.
The dialogue was led by a group of distinguished leaders from the community who have been working with the AJC: Gurpreet Ahuja, president of the Sikh Council, Louis DeSipio, professor of Chicano/Latino studies at UCI, Rabbi Marc Dworkin, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, Rusty Kennedy, executive director of O.C. Human Relations, Louis Ortiz-Franco, professor of math and computer science at Chapman University, and Khoi Ta, vice president of the Vietnamese-American Public Affairs Committee.
In order to explain why different groups continue to segregate themselves, each panel member discussed their experiences and knowledge of their community’s history.
According to Ta, although the Vietnamese community seems to have grown significantly from the first wave of educated immigrants in 1975 (from zero to 200,000 in Orange County, 70,000 living in Westminster alone), they still seem to be unable to integrate themselves in the community like other ethnic groups because of the language barrier.
‘[The Vietnamese community is] the most linguistically isolated community in the O.C. and California. Two-thirds don’t speak English well so the community hungers for information,’ Ta said. ‘Almost 75 percent voted absentee [because]