Senator Warren confronts anti-Asian bias
Quincy business owner shares story of verbal confrontation
Like many small-business owners, Lorraine Tse has been dealing with the economic effects of the pandemic on her Quincy-based travel agency and transportation service for over a year. But as a Chinese American, she is also nearing the anniversary of what she described as a racially charged verbal and physical assault at a Dunkin as she picked up coffees for her staff last May.
Tse, who owns Sunshine Travel, broke down in tears as she recounted the alleged attack to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a walking tour of small Quincy businesses with Massachusetts Speaker of the House Ron Mariano, state Rep. Tackey Chan and other local leaders last Thursday.
Tse said that as she talked to staff about an issue with her order, another patron began shouting at her to go back to China and threatening to hit her with her pocketbook.
“She said ‘Get the hell out. I’m going to hit you. Go back to China!’ And then I ran out,” said Tse. “She ran after me. Then she’s like, ‘I’m gonna take your car.’ This was scary.”
“I know this is hard. I wish I could give you a hug,” said Warren as she tried to comfort Tse.
“I’m glad to be here in Quincy to support the Asian community,” said Warren after the tour. “They have been hit so hard by this pandemic economically and physically. People have been threatened … and have had to face both the fear of COVID-19 and of personal violence simultaneously. They need more support from everyone in the commonwealth.”
Tse said she had never faced this type of discrimination before and believes the use of the term “China virus” by former President Donald Trump has empowered people to act out against Asians. In addition to the abuse she sustained, she is upset that Dunkin employees did not step up to help her.
“I look at the staff. ‘Can you do something?’ They look at me. Laughing,” Tse said.
She said that instead of issuing an apology, Dunkin sent her a rebuttal letter via an attorney. Since her business has been affected by the pandemic, she can’t afford to hire an attorney to respond. She added she also feels let down by her community.
Dunkin’ did not respond to a request for comment by the Banner’s press deadline.
“I asked my girlfriends, if I died that day, would they go do a protest for me. They say ‘No, because we’re Chinese, because we are so busy working,’” she said.
Philip Chong, president and CEO of Quincy Asian Resources, said the Asian community has been taught to stay quiet about discrimination they have faced, but that it is time to speak up.
“Definitely we’re encouraging the community to speak up,” Chong said. “In our culture we are taught silence is golden, but it’s time to speak up and we’re very glad we have all the supporters helping us. We’re putting a rally together for next Saturday in Quincy at the City Hall.”
Chan added that it is necessary to change misconceptions about the Asian community.
“This is kind of our perpetual challenge through life,” said Chan. “We’re not foreigners. We live here, and we should have the same equal treatment and access like everybody else.”
“We have to train [people] to love each other,” said Tse. “We need harmony.”