One woman is speaking out and providing additional details following a racist encounter she had on a train in Italy.
On April 24, Mahnoor Euceph (@mahnooreu), a Pakistani American filmmaker, posted a viral TikTok in which three Italian women are seen whispering and giggling indiscreetly, presumably at Euceph and her party, while on a train from Lake Como to Milan. Euceph was accompanied by her “half Chinese boyfriend, his Chinese mom, and his white dad.”
One of the women proceeds to loudly and repeatedly say “ni hao,” while the other two laugh hysterically. At one point, it seems as though the women even make eye contact with Euceph, who is recording this encounter.
Margherita, “the girl with the headband,” sent two messages to clarify what it was Euceph “perceived to have happened.”
“I understand that you were offended by our laughter and I’m here to assure you we had no intention of making fun of you, let alone your ethnicity or nationality. My friends and I were just laughing with each other in a way that we’realizing just now might have been offensive in your regards,” read an excerpt of the message.
“I assure you that we repudiate racism just as much as you do and I think that all the tags and the comments we’re receiving are just carrying it forward rather than opposing it,” Margherita continued.
Rather than accept the alleged apology, Euceph stood up for herself and her family.
“My boyfriend’s Chinese mom is in her 60s. She has seen a lot of hate towards Asians in her life, and at her age, she does not deserve this,” Euceph wrote. “You ARE the real racists, and you have a lot of work do on yourself. I hope you will learn from this and take responsibility for how you acted.”
Euceph then took the time to thank audiences for their support and urged them to avoid bullying the women.
“I also wanna say, you know, we don’t need to bully them or stoop to their level or make comments about their appearances. You know, women have enough body image issues as it is,” she said. “I think, let’s just stick to the topic at hand, which is their racist behavior, and let’s try to make them take accountability for that.”
“It felt at least like a little bit of justice to get the support from the global community, and a lot of really nice Italian people have reached out and apologized for these girls’ behavior,” she added.
“The way she looked you DEAD in the eye with no shame saying ‘NI HAO’ and how u caught that on camera there is NO WAY she can back out of this”
Euceph isn’t the only one who feels as though the apology was disingenuous. TikTok users have taken to the comments to discuss their exchange, and many have commended Euceph for how eloquently she stood her ground and called out Margherita’s racist behavior.
“that was such a bs apology “sorry if us staring at you and laughing was interpreted as offensive,” @gabbithecrafter wrote.
“They’re only sorry they were caught and now the world knows,” @itsmiaquattlebaum said.
“You can literally hear them say Ni Hao multiple times,” @canyoumeetmeinjannah added.
“The gaslighting is crazy lmao,” @jsteelcity laughed.
“The way she looked you DEAD in the eye with no shame saying ‘NI HAO’ and how u caught that on camera there is NO WAY she can back out of this,” @smitholve3 replied.
In 2022, a study conducted by Erin T. Jacques, PhD reviewed 100 videos on TikTok that used the hashtag #StopAsianHate in an effort to raise awareness regarding the “increased incidences of racism, xenophobia, and violence” toward Asians and Asian Americans following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jacques found that the “sharing and documenting of collective experiences via social media not only promotes activism in online communities, but it helps facilitate offline communities to take action, build community, and engage in norm formation” — which was demonstrated by the “global” support Euceph received after she shared her initial TikTok documenting the incident, which has more than 19.2 million views and 2.4 million likes as of reporting. Social media, to that end, is viable as “a tool for political engagement, online activism, and a forum to raise consciousness” about “social injustices for other marginalized groups.”
While the motivation for Margherita and the two other women to engage in racist rhetoric isn’t exactly known, per Jacques’s study, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they were emboldened by the growing, concerning normalization of Asian hate and “pandemic scapegoating” in America and beyond.
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