In a video that was posted last week, a middle-aged woman who later identifies herself as Latina is seen confronting a Muslim couple. “Why are you here?” she asks as other riders on the packed train look on. “Why are you in this country if you’re not with us?”
When another passenger, with an accent, tells her to “stop,” the woman’s ire turns to that passenger: “No. You don’t understand! You’re not even from here,” she screams, pointing her finger in the woman’s face. “I am. I was born here in America.”
A young Latina then intervenes. She asks the older woman what nationality she is and where she is from and the woman says she is from Puerto Rico. The young woman, who says she is Chinese and Peruvian, pleads with the woman in English and Spanish to be respectful to the couple. But in the bizarre exchange aboard the moving E-line train, the older woman tells her to mind her own business and stop scolding her.
“I am not asking you to be quiet. I am asking you to please respect her,” says the young woman, identified as Tracey Tong, 23, of Queens.
“In Spanish, in English, in Chinese, in French. Whatever language you want me to tell you. I will tell you whether you are from here, Puerto Rico or wherever you are from. I am born here and I don’t like the way you are treating her,” Tong tells the woman. “We are all in this together. Whether you like what’s going on in the government or not, you got to deal with it. You are a grown woman.”
But the woman continues. She laments “the situation” Latinos are in. “I simply say they are attacking Latinos,” she said.
Tong said she understands the political climate isn’t ideal. As a Latina, whose mother is not from the U.S., she said, she too is hurt by what’s happening in this country. But that’s not a reason to disrespect others, she says in the video.
“We can’t start fighting with people, igniting more problems,” she says in Spanish. “Don’t disrespect others.”