A video of a woman went viral earlier this week, showing her for defending two Muslim New York City subway riders against a Latina who was being racist toward them. Media outlets AJ+ and The Guardian have identified the hero as 23-year-old Tracey Tong, whose dad is of Chinese descent and mother is Latina.
In the video from Mañanero TV, which has been viewed nearly 500,000 times, the older Latina woman, who says she’s from Puerto Rico, can be heard asking the two Muslim passengers: “Why are you here? Why are you in this country if you are not with us?” pointing to others seated in the subway car.
Then, another woman, who appears to be White, politely asks her to please stop, but she refuses, which is when Tong steps in. She begins by trying to engage the woman, asking her where she’s from and then disclosing her own ethnicity. When the woman tells her she doesn’t care, Tong replies, this time in Spanish:
“I think what you’re doing is very unjust. We must all unite. We can’t be against each other. That’s absolutely ridiculous and disrespectful.”
She tells AJ+ in an interview that she barely remembers what she said in that moment. “Feeling all those feelings, I had to almost pour it out,” she said. She described it as a “rush of adrenaline,” to The Guardian. She had seen videos of racist encounters and told herself she wouldn’t allow such an event to happen in front of her. That day was her first time on the subway in six months after spending time in Buffalo, New York, she tells The Guardian.
“And ironically enough, the first day I get on the train it happened,” Tong said. “I didn’t even have the time to process it.”
Watch the full video of the subway interaction below.