A New York Times editor was told to “go back to China” when walking down the footpath on New York City’s Upper East Side.
Micheal Luo, an Asian-American journalist, was with his family and friends on Sunday after having left church. As the group moved down a footpath, with a stroller in tow, a woman who was apparently annoyed that the group was taking up a large portion of the footpath, lobbed the racially tinged remark at the group.
When Luo sprinted to confront her, she pulled out her phone and threatened to call the police, screaming “go back to your f—ing country.”
“I was born in this country!” Luo yelled back, writing an open letter in The Times on Sunday that it was the only retort he could muster in the moment.
Disturbed by the confrontation, Luo’s 7-year-old keeps asking, “Why did she say, ‘Go back to China?’ We’re not from China.”
“Maybe you don’t know this,” Luo wrote in the letter, addressing the impatient woman. “But the insults you hurled at my family get to the heart of the Asian-American experience.”
“It’s this persistent sense of otherness that a lot of us struggle with every day,” Luo continued. “That no matter what we do, how successful we are, what friends we make, we don’t belong. We’re foreign. We’re not American.”
Asian Americans who were moved by Luo’s story are using the hashtag #thisis2016 to share their own experiences with racism.
Thank you, @michaelluo. I really relate to this.
“Where are you from?
“No, where are you really from? China? Korea?”
— Hannah Stanke (@hannah_stanke) October 10, 2016
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in, denouncing the harassment.
@michaelluo – Shouldn’t have to affirm it, but EVERYONE belongs in NYC. What doesn’t belong here are comments like you heard today. pic.twitter.com/8DvdLgdwhv
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) October 9, 2016
A Harvard graduate, and now the editor of one of the world’s the most prominent publications, Luo considers himself as a model minority, but still somehow “often feel[s] like an outsider,” he wrote.
Compared to other minority groups, Asian-Americans tend to remain silent on issues of identity politics, but that appears to be changing.
Last Thursday, Asian-Americans protested outside the Manhattan headquarters of Fox News after a stereotype-filled segment about Chinatown — produced by correspondent Jesse Watters — aired on the cable network.
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