A Chicago woman was confronted in the street over her face mask and told to “go back to Asia.”
Emily Choi, 34, was walking with her infant son in a stroller near University Village in Chicago on Wednesday, when she was harassed by a man walking his dog, as reported by ABC7.
The man confronted Choi, who is of Chinese descent, about her wearing a mask and told her to take it off, cursing at her.
Choi works as a pharmacist and told the Chicago Sun-Times that she wears a mask to protect the immunocompromised. She told the Chicago Sun-Times: “I had an option to not say anything and just keep walking, but I just wasn’t OK with it.
“I felt like if I just said nothing and turned away, it’s like kind of accepting what he did.”
So Choi asked him why he cares that she’s wearing a mask and explained that not everyone is vaccinated yet. But he told her it didn’t make sense, before telling her to “go back to Asia.”
She said that the man, who was wearing a Cubs shirt, also thrust his fist in the air and said “white power.”
Choi told ABC7: “It was discouraging to hear that from someone in my neighborhood in front of my son.”
“I think some people will pin this as it was one bad guy and he might be a little crazy,” she told the media outlet, “I think that context becomes very different when the attack is on your identity and who you are.”
Chicago Sun-Times reported that after Choi dropped her son off at daycare, she saw the man again on her way home. She reported the incident to the nearby University of Illinois at Chicago staff, who said they would contact campus police.
But later, the police said they could not find the man and that nobody is in custody.
Choi has been supported by her neighbors after sharing her story on social media. She told ABC7 that she believes it’s important for Asian Americans to continue to speak out against attacks on their community.
In April, a poll released by the Pew Research Center found that 81 percent of Asian Americans believed violence against them was increasing, while 2 percent believed it was decreasing.
Six percent felt that violence against Asian Americans had stayed the same, and 9 percent said they were unsure whether the violence had increased or decreased. Furthermore, 32 percent of Asian Americans said they feared someone might threaten or physically attack them, and 27 percent reported people acting uncomfortably around them.
Newsweek has contacted the Chicago police for comment.