On March 17, 75-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie was going about her business on the streets of San Francisco when a man approached her out of nowhere and hit her in the face.
The assault was just one in a number of growing anti-Asian attacks across the country in recent months, fueled by racism, lies from the political far-Right about the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing resurgence of white supremacy in the country.
In an interview with CNN affiliate KPIX, Xie said of her attacker, “he bullies old people, so I gave a punch.”
Despite bludgeoning the assailant in return with a wooden plank, the unprovoked attack left the senior citizen with two black eyes, a swollen wrist and post-traumatic stress disorder so severe that she was too scared to step outside her home, according to CNN’s Rachel Trent.
NBC News has reported that “Steven Jenkins, a 39-year-old white man, was arrested in connection with the incident, which occurred just days after the Atlanta-area spa shootings that left six women of Asian descent and two other victims dead.” Jenkins is also accused of attacking 83-year-old Knoc Pham at a nearby market before assaulting Xie.
To help fund her hospital bills following the attack, Xie’s grandson, John Chen, set up a GoFundMe dedicated to his grandmother. His initial goal was to reach $50,000, but donations to the page quickly soared, growing to nearly $1 million from more than 31,000 individual donors.
When Chen and his family visited his grandmother to tell her about the overwhelming support she had received online through the site, she asked that all the money raised for her be donated to charities fighting against anti-Asian hatred.
“She said we must not submit to racism and we must fight to the death if necessary,” Chen wrote in an update on the page. “She also stated multiple times to donate all the funds generated in this GoFundMe back to the Asian American community to combat racism. She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than her. This is my grandma, grandpa and our family’s decision. We hope everyone can understand our decision.”
Chen also happily updated donors on his grandmother’s progress.
“Her overall mental and physical health has improved,” he wrote. “Her eye is no longer [swollen] to the point of not being able to open it. She is now starting to feel optimistic again and is in better spirits.”
For more on what you can do in your community, visit Stop AAPI Hate.