A homeless Asian woman has reportedly endured blatant abuse from pedestrians while living on the streets of New York City in a time she now describes as the “new normal.”
At one point, Mai Li broke down in tears after getting spat on and cursed at — first for being homeless and then for being Asian, according to charity group Backpacks For The Street, which shared her story this week.
The group also claimed to have witnessed one particular moment in which a passerby yelled at the old woman, “Go the f**k back to your country and die.”
“SPIT ON and CURSED AT … WITH TEARS COMING DOWN HER FACE! First for being HOMELESS. Then for being ASIAN. That’s what Mai Li has had to endure,” Backpacks co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Newman wrote. “She was in tears and shaking as she tried to explain to Jayson the hate and disgust that she faces now in this new normal.”
Others blamed Mai Li for the COVID-19 outbreak — an unsurprising report adding to the countless incidents of racism and xenophobia Asians have been suffering in the last several weeks.
“Where so many homeless people too often feel invisible, there is the other side of this ugliness, where passerbys are just cruel,” Newman noted.
Mai Li reportedly lives with her granddaughter, who spotted the Backpacks team on the street and recognized them for having helped her in the past.
She led the group to her grandmother, and that’s when they learned all the discrimination she has been enduring.
Newman encouraged others to help Backpacks continue their work in helping people like Mai Li, who are especially vulnerable at this time of a health crisis. The group aims to equip the homeless with essential materials against COVID-19.
“The pain is real. The heartbreak is real. The discrimination is real,” Newman wrote. “But so too is the help and the hope that Backpacks For The Street is able to give Mai Li, her granddaughter and others who are homeless on the street and struggling to survive, but who also have no access to COVID fighting necessities, which we are able to provide, and did provide, along with a backpack of toiletries, food and other items.”
Mai Li’s struggle has touched people’s hearts. Some also condemned abusive pedestrians.
“I’m sorry that some people behave worse than animals and no one deserves to be homeless or spit on. I know how soul destroying that is,” one wrote.
“[It] breaks my heart to see things like this happening everywhere in the country and around the world,” another commented. “Why can’t we be kind to one another and help this poor lady find shelter? I’m glad to see that she’s able to receive the basic necessities from this charity organization, but what’s going to happen when she runs out!?”
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