Korean-American YouTuber told to 'go back to Wuhan' in racist encounter at restaurant

Iana Murray
Friday 18 September 2020 15:00
news
(Instagram/@sophiachang)

A Korean-American YouTuber shared her experience of receiving racist abuse at a restaurant.

In a video posted on Instagram that has gained over 700,000 views, Sophia Chang detailed an encounter she had with a patron at the Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach, California.

She describes a man walking up to her and her friend, who then tells them to “go back to Wuhan”. When she confronted him about his comments, he replied: “I don’t speak Chinese.”

In a follow-up post, Chang identified the man as James Hilbrant.

The Instagram caption read:

My sister and I sat down to eat dinner at @bluewatergrill in Newport Beach and this man made direct eye contact with us and said “go back to Wuhan” as he headed to the bathroom. Once he returned, we asked him why he would say that and he goes “I don’t speak Chinese, I don’t know what you’re talking about”. I’m so disgusted. If you see people practicing this sort of behavior. REPORT THEM.

Hilbrant’s comments refer to the Chinese city where the coronavirus originated and is emblematic of the racist abuse Asian Americans have received since the outbreak that has only been exacerbated by Trump referring to the virus as the “Chinese virus”.

The patron’s comments ignited outrage online, with many calling Hilbrant’s workplace, Prudential Financial Inc.

After the incident, Bluewater Grill made a statement on Instagram:

We would like to address a situation that occurred at our restaurant last evening. During dinner, a customer let us know that she was on the receiving end of racist comments made by another patron. We immediately addressed the situation with the customer and asked them to leave. We understand that some feel there was a lack of urgency in removing this patron from the premises. However, the safety of all our customers and staff is our utmost concern and we wanted to make sure this situation did not escalate and become hostile.

The restaurant also said that the patron “is no longer welcome at Bluewater Grill.”

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