A social media influencer has defended shaming an alleged racist on her Instagram account days after she claimed he told her to “go back to Wuhan” at a popular restaurant.
Korean-American Sophia Chang addressed her 543,000 Instagram followers in an emotional video on Monday afternoon (local time) after last week sharing a clip of the aftermath of the alleged incident as well as a photo of the man involved and details about his employer, who has since dismissed him following investigations.
“I have received some [direct messages] from people who think that I’m taking it too far,” she said.
“There’s this one person who [direct messaged] me that said since I have a platform that it’s my responsibility to teach my followers how to deal with racism with grace by walking away.
“I couldn’t disagree more. Because of this platform I have the responsibility to show people that it is not OK to be talked to like that and racially harassed for no reason.”
Chang, who is also a prominent YouTube vlogger with nearly 850,000 followers, alleges the man told the influencer and her sister to “go back to Wuhan” as he passed their table at the Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach, in the US state of California, in an unprovoked attack.
Wuhan is the original epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic after the virus rapidly began to spread through the Chinese city at the beginning of 2020.
When Chang and her sister called the man out on his alleged remarks, she says he told them “I don’t speak Chinese”.
Chang’s video last week shows the man denying the allegations before a female employee informs Chang she will “handle it” and approaches the man’s table.
The restaurant later confirmed in a statement the man had been ejected from the restaurant and it did not condone racism “in any form”, while the man was no longer welcome on their premises.
Chang stands up for victims of racism amid pandemic
Chang said if the man had “minded his own f****** business that day, we wouldn’t even be in this situation”.
“I didn’t ask to be in this situation. What would you want to happen? Him not have any kind of consequence?” she asked.
An emotional Chang said she was desperate to “do the right thing” and stand up for Asians who have been racially abused during the pandemic.
“I’ve realised this whole situation is much bigger than my sister and I. There’s so many Asians in America who have dealt with racism since the pandemic hit and its not OK,” she said.
“Some people feel like they don’t have a voice and others simply just walk away and that is something I just could not do.
“Walking away does not solve the issue and that is why I am choosing to speak up.”
She said she hoped people looking to express discriminative views would “think twice before they decide to attack anyone else”.
In one of her posts, Chang previously identified the man as a Prudential employee.
A Prudential spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia on Thursday the matter was under investigation.
“Prudential has zero tolerance for discrimination and takes these allegations very seriously. This matter will be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken, as warranted,” the company said.
On Wednesday, the spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo News Australia the worker has been stood down.
“After thoroughly investigating the incident in Newport Beach, we have made the decision to end our relationship with the financial representative involved,” they said.
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