A Filipino American Tampa Bay Rays sports reporter for The Athletic was racially abused by a White couple while shopping for groceries at Publix in downtown St. Petersberg, Florida.
Josh Tolentino, a second-generation Filipino American, shared the details of the incident that took place on June 24, according to Patch.
I am not COVID-19. I am not the Chinese Virus. I am not the Kung Flu.
— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) June 25, 2020
“As I was exiting the store, I became the victim of racist attacks from a white couple,” said on Twitter last week. “They both referred to me as ‘Kung Flu’ several times, told me to go back to China with the virus and mocked me for wearing a mask.”
Tolentino described what happened to him as a “disgusting moment.”
“Racism is still very much prevalent in our country, and now is the time to have these conversations,” he said. “Amid the current Black Lives Matter movement, Asian Americans have been experiencing the backlash of racism as well.”
Tolentino said the couple was allegedly not allowed to enter the supermarket because they were not wearing masks, an ordinance placed in many counties and states amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including Pinellas County.
“They were upset that they couldn’t get in, and saw an Asian American coming out and started yelling at me,” the reporter said.
Tolentino, who was reluctant to share his experience at first, found the courage to speak out after receiving guidance from his fellow sports reporters.
“What I want to shed more light on is the awareness of it,” he said. “In the Asian culture, we’re taught to be quiet, but stuff like this has been happening for too long to Asians and Blacks, and we must start speaking up.”
In his post, Tolentino took a firm stand in the fight against racism.
“I am not COVID-19; I am not the Chinese Virus; and I am not the Kung Flu,” he said. “I am not responsible for the virus and neither are the Asians being attacked across the U.S. I am a proud second generation Filipino American.”
“I stand with my Black brothers and sisters right now,” he added. “As human beings, we should all be united in fighting racism. It’s crucial to understand the history of racism people of color have experienced for far too long. It’s something that’s incredibly important in recognizing that what’s happening in our country isn’t a moment, but a continued fight for hundreds of years.”
This is not the St. Pete we’ve built. This is not who we are. I really hope this couple is simply visiting our city and I hope they never come back. This is called Trickle Down Trump. It won’t be tolerated. I am really sorry you experienced this and thank you for sharing it.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) June 25, 2020
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman responded to Tolentino’s post and assured him that the incident will not be tolerated.