Asian Americans have been tweeting their own stories of prejudice and discrimination after a New York Times editor shared that he had been told to "go back to China" while with his family over the weekend.
Deputy metro editor Michael Luo recounted his experience in an open letter that published on Sunday, writing that he was with family and friends on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, having just come out of church, when a woman who was blocked by them and a baby stroller made the remark.
Luo wrote that he sprinted after the woman, who took out her phone and threatened to call the police. When Luo walked away, she screamed, “Go back to your [expletive] country,” according to his letter.
“I was born in this country,” replied Luo.
“It felt silly,” he wrote. “But how else to prove I belonged?
“Maybe you don’t know this,” Luo continued, “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. 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 quickly took to Twitter to share their own experiences and offer emotional support. Several elected officials also offered their support.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in, tweeting, “Shouldn't have to affirm it, but EVERYONE belongs in NYC.”
Some of the tweets from Asian Americans centered on the question of origin.
Other messages recalled instances where people doubted that Asian Americans had English-language names.
Others recounted incidents that they had experienced.
New York State Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim also tweeted in support of Luo.
Luo’s open letter about his encounter on the Upper East Side punctuated a week dominated by outrage over a Fox News segment filmed in Manhattan’s Chinatown about the presidential election.
Many civil rights organizations and elected officials lashed out at Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters, who appears regularly on “The O’Reilly Factor.” His video clip featured a Japanese man being asked to do karate and an elderly Chinese woman unable to answer a question about the presidential candidates, presumably because of a language barrier.
Luo, in his open letter, said the support he received online was gratifying. But he also noted that he often still feels like an outsider.
“And I wonder if that feeling will ever go away,” he wrote. “Perhaps, more important, I wonder whether my two daughters who were with me today will always feel that way too.”