Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have experienced a rise in instances of xenophobia and hate crimes. Now, after a string of reported attacks against people of Asian descent in New York City, one woman is offering to pay the cab fare for Asian Americans who feel unsafe taking public transportation, according to ABC News.
Maddy Park, an Asian American woman who lives in Brooklyn, was taking the train when she felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety that someone was going to target her.
“It was a 30-minute commute and I realized every minute of the 30 minutes I was terrified. I was scared that any moment in time someone might say a racial slur or attack me,” Park told WABC. “Worst of all, I thought that if something were to happen to me, nobody would stand up.”
Violence against people of Asian descent swelled in 2020, particularly in New York City where Asian Americans make up 16% of the population, according to the New York Times. The shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16 that killed eight people, including six Asian women, prompted people to pay more attention to instances of anti-Asian discrimination.
March 2021 saw the highest number of reported instances of discrimination against Asian Americans in the past year. Experts and advocates say the increase not only demonstrates an unsettling and rising trend of discrimination, but also suggests that hate crimes against Asian Americans have been vastly underreported. When violence against Asian Americans is reported to the police, many of the cases do not result in hate crime charges.
Park knew the statistics, but while she felt that she could afford to take a taxi instead of public transportation, she knew other Asian Americans could not say the same. That’s when she started the @CafeMaddyCab account on Instagram.
Starting with a base of $2,000, Park offered to pay for the cab rides of any Asian woman or elderly person who felt uncomfortable taking the train in four of New York City’s boroughs. All they have to do is send a receipt for their ride, send a selfie to show that they are of Asian descent, and request the fare through her Venmo account. Commenters immediately started asking how they could support Park’s efforts, which resulted in over $100,000 in donations in just two days.
“People who are donating are people from all across the nation, across all races, ethnicities, and they just sent me messages saying, listen, we really want you guys to be safe too and we're donating so that more people can take rides in the city,” Park said. “It really opened my eyes to how many people are actually supporting the Asian community in New York City.”
Park’s Instagram account has already expanded who can benefit from her project’s reimbursement efforts, now covering rides for LGBTQ+ Asian people in all five boroughs of New York City, as well as giving the option to request on PayPal. Park has also acknowledged plans to help fund similar initiatives in other cities. One of these has already begun in San Francisco’s Bay Area under the Instagram handle @CaliKyeCab.
While Park has had to balance running the account and keeping up with donations with her full-time job, she expressed gratitude for everyone’s support.
“Thank you for your solidarity. Your generosity. Your kind words and support for the AAPI community,” she wrote in an Instagram post.