Chinese grandmother who fought off white attacker plans to give nearly US$1 million in donations to fight racism against Asian-Americans

Qin Chen
·3-min read

Xie Xiaozhen, a 76-year-old Chinese grandmother who fought off a violent attack in San Francisco, plans to give all of the charitable donations she received to organisations that fight racism directed at the Asian-American community.

As of Wednesday evening, around 31,200 people had donated US$933,630 to Xie’s medical expenses in five days via GoFundMe, far beyond the US$50,000 target they set.

In a statement released on the family’s campaign page, John Chen, Xie’s grandson, wrote:

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“[Xie] said we must not submit to racism and we must fight to the death if necessary. She also stated multiple times to donate all the funds generated in this GoFundMe back to the Asian-American community to combat racism.”

Xie’s family said she was emotional and cried often after the incident, but is slowly recovering from her injuries. Photo: GoFundMe
Xie’s family said she was emotional and cried often after the incident, but is slowly recovering from her injuries. Photo: GoFundMe

Chen added that Xie made the decision because the problem of racism is “bigger than her”.

The attack on Xie, who immigrated from China to the US in 1995, happened last week on Wednesday — the day after a man shot and killed eight people in Atlanta-area spas. Six of the victims were Asian women.

Many people, including US Senator Tammy Duckworth, said it was a racially motivated crime. The gunman, who is white, told investigators he had a sex addiction which drove him to violence. Law enforcement officials have not tied the crime to race.

The spa killings and the attack on Xie come amid a spike in attacks on Asians in much of the West since the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago.

In the US, hate crimes against Asians rose by 149 per cent from 2019 to 2020, according to The Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Overall, hate crimes in America dropped by 7 per cent in 2020, the study found.

On March 17, a video of Xie went viral. She was crying and yelling at a man, since identified as 39-year-old white man Steven Jenkins, who reportedly punched her in the face in an unprovoked attack and was bleeding from his face after she reacted by beating him with a wooden plank.

The incident quickly made global headlines and people across the world hailed Xie as a hero defending herself against a racist bully.

On the same day, Jenkins also assaulted Ngoc Pham an 83-year-old Vietnamese American man. Ngoc fell during the attack and broke his nose and may have fractured bones in his neck. Ngoc’s family has helped him raised more than US$284,000 on GoFundMe at the time of writing.

The San Francisco police department charged Jenkins with two counts of assault and elder abuse. They are investigating whether he was motivated by racial bias.

On the GoFundMe page, Chen wrote: “All the hatred that is happening towards the AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islanders) community has deeply angered and saddened our family.”

“That is why our family plans to donate ALL funds generated in this GoFundMe to help the AAPI community recover, and combat racism.”

The family also plans on donating US$10,000 of their own money to the cause, according to a report in Jiangmen News, a local newspaper in China.

A local Chinese artist has created a cartoon paying tribute to Xie’s audacious self-defence. Photo: Weibo/Yangcheng Evening News
A local Chinese artist has created a cartoon paying tribute to Xie’s audacious self-defence. Photo: Weibo/Yangcheng Evening News

To celebrate Xie’s bravado, Chen Chunming, a cartoon artist from the same Chinese region as Xie, created a cartoon of Xie fearlessly holding a wood plank next to Chinese words “beat you down”.

Xie is originally from Taishan, a coastal region in the southern province of Guangdong.

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