PASADENA, Calif. – “Every disease has ever came from China, homie! Everything comes from China, because they’re (expletive) disgusting,” expressed a commuter on the Gold Line coming from Downtown Los Angeles towards Pasadena.
Coming home late one evening on the Gold Line, Pasadena resident Tanny Jiraprapasuke was verbally attacked by another commuter. The incident lasted over 10 minutes and nobody came to her defense.
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“I thought for sure they would, you know, step up, and as I was making eye contact, nobody, nobody looked at me,” said Tanny Jiraprapasuke.
“Their (expletive) hygiene? Their hygiene, they have no hygiene,” continued the commuter with his racist attack. “Their hygiene is (expletive) disgusting.”
Jiraprapasuke was scared, so she recorded the assault and posted the video on Twitter. She doesn’t blame her attacker though and feels it’s based on a misunderstanding.
“Some people, including the President, labeling the coronavirus as the Chinese virus,” explained Jiraprapasuke. “And for a lot of people, they don’t know the difference between Chinese, and Thai, and Japanese. We’re all sort of collectively now feeling the attack really.”
California has the largest Asian-American population in the U.S., comprising 13.6 percent of the state's population. So when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, representing the 23rd district of California, calls COVID-19 the Chinese coronavirus, many are blaming all Asian-Americans.
When Mulan was announced, Asian-Americans everywhere cheered when one of their own would be crowned a Disney princess. Actor Tzi Ma sees it as a golden opportunity for diversity, but reality hit when a trip to Whole Foods in Pasadena started with a racist encounter.
“And I was ready to cross and to go to the entrance and I see a car rolling up slowly and I thought he was going to stop and let me pass, but he didn't,” said Tzi Ma. “He kind of rolled in front of me and rolled down the window and looked at me straight in the eye and said ‘You should be quarantined’ and he just took off.”
Ma grew up in the U.S. and has worked all over the world, but it was his first time experiencing a racist encounter in Los Angeles. And when the Mulan poster in Pasadena was defaced, it became clear to him even positive portrayals in media isn’t enough.
“It affected me greatly,” said Ma. “I was kind of numb and cold, you know, after that. You know, walking in and seeing my entire life turned upside down in front of me and that's the feeling of it, so not a very pleasant experience.”
Now, he’s promoting a new campaign. #WashTheHate and is urging everyone to not just wash your hands, but to wash your hate away.
“The next time you wash your hands, wash out the hate that you may have for your fellow Americans. Hate will get you sick even if the virus doesn’t,” said Ma.
For Jiraprapasuke, despite the horrific encounter, there’s a silver lining.
“My biggest hope is that the next generation won’t have to feel like they’re not part of the American fabric,” said Jiraprapasuke.
Wash your hands and don’t be a racist.