By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews NY Correspondent
It was her desire for justice that made Peiyin Shih do what she did to set an example for her son and nanny when she was at the Forest Hills, Queens Dunkin Donuts.
In our exclusive English language interview with Shih about her racist incident with an employee who mocked her Chinese accent, she said she went public to not allow this to happen to any other Asians in the future. Shih identified the employee as Yaibur Rahman, based on the name on his employee name tag.
We also spoke exclusively with Cain Management that owns that Dunkin Donuts.
Shih was so upset at what happened, her Forest Hills Parent Facebook group page that she is a member of encouraged her to post her ordeal on the Dunkin Donut’s Facebook page to get a response. That post now has over 11,000 shares. Many supported her and blasted Rahman for his racist behavior. Many wanted him fired because he taunted Shih on her accent when she couldn’t pronounce “glazed chocolate donut” clearly. He even asked if she could read English. A customer upset that Shih was holding up the line went as far as even suggesting that Shih might be an illegal immigrant. Others began posting negative comments and reviews on their Yelp page in support of Shih.
“What happened at the Dunkin Donuts?” I asked Shih.
“I just wanted to order something. I don’t really go to Dunkin Donuts often, so I don’t know the name of the donut. So I took a look and told Rahman, ‘I want to have that one,’ and I said, ‘glazed chocolate donut.’ He said, ‘What?! What?! What are you saying?, but he didn’t understand what I said because I probably pronounced it wrong,” Shih said in our telephone interview.
She told Rahman, “from the top,” telling him where to locate the donut, but Rahman told her, “You have to say the whole name in order to order.”
Shih reacted, “Oh my god, are you kidding me?” then asked for the store manager, but was told the manager was not at the store because of the holiday.
I don’t come to Dunkin Donuts often, but I know employees do not say that,” she told me.
My hand was shaking, but I was so brave. I don’t usually argue.
When Shih decided to video the incident, a customer behind her got irate. She said she was able to capture him on video.
“Because I was telling the staff to get the manager, this guy was shouting at me, “I am going to take your phone and throw it out the window. You can’t do this because I can’t order!’ He then said the F word, called me a bitch and told me to get out of here,” she explained.
Shih decided to call the police while still at Dunkin Donuts on the harassment and discrimination she was experiencing, but the male customer also called the police. She said she heard him say, “This is just a Chinese lady who complained about the attitude of the staff in Dunkin Donuts. It’s nothing. You don’t have to come.”
The customer eventually left the store.
Afterwards, Shih told me she went to the police department about the incident, but was told they could not help her. They suggested she called Dunkin Donuts headquarters, but ended up filing an online feedback form of what happened since there was no one to take her call on the holiday.
I told Shih earlier that I spoke to Shaun Cain of Cain Management who said that Rahman was fired.
“Did you want Rahman fired?” I asked Shih.
“No, I did not want him fired. I just wanted him to apologize, but Mr. Cain said that because of what happened, they had to let him go.”
“Do you plan on going back to Dunkin Donuts in the future?”
With some hesitation, Shih said, “I used to go there more often, just for coffee, I never order the donuts. I will still go to Dunkin Donuts, but not at that location. If they improve maybe I would.”
Cain said, “I got emails, saw it on social media and received a complaint,” he explained to me on how he learned of the incident.
“How will you prevent this from happening in your store again?” I asked him.
“We will have more sensitivity training on understanding cultural differences, respect for diversity and ethnicity. We never had an incident like this happen. We don’t tolerate this at my company by any means. We will have a meeting with the managers next week, ” Cain said.
How did you reach out to the customer and how was this resolved?
Cain said, “I spoke to the customer, gave her a gift card and she was thankful.
Shih told me she will be receiving the $100 gift card in the mail.
“I told Mr. Cain it is not my purpose to get a gift card. I wanted justice. I want people to speak up for their rights. It’s because I was with my nanny and son that I wanted to set a good example. I wanted to show them that if this happens to you, you got to do this. You don’t walk away and let this happen again in the future. I don’t care about the gift card, it’s about justice. Asian people always ‘take it’. We don’t speak English, we’re immigrants. Even if we’re born here, we are taught to not argue and let it go, but if you don’t stand up for your rights, you’re gonna lose it for other people,” she expressed.
Two Facebook users that were upset over the incident took it upon themselves to visit the Dunkin Donuts separately before our story was published to see if Rahman was fired or not. One of them did not see him in the store, but the other one who requested to speak to a manager was told Rahman was fired.
Earlier today I was able to capture screen shots of some of the negative comments on Yelp. I returned later in the evening to see if any new reviews were posted. But, at 7:50pm there was a notification across the Yelp screen that said the page was in “Active Clean-Up Alert.” And across the top highlighted in red, it read, “This business is being monitored by Yelp’s Support team for content related to media reports.” Hmm, interesting. Are they wiping the slate clean for that Dunkin Donuts?
Click on the photos for a larger view.
“People think they can bully you, this time and the next time, then it will become a vicious cycle. I don’t want this to happen again, ” Shih said.
Shih stood up against racism and won. To her, justice was served.
What would you have done if this happened to you?
Are you satisfied on how this was resolved?
What would you liked to have done?
Share your thoughts.
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RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shif: “I did it for Justice.”: I am very sure that if this had happened to a Black, this would turn into a million dollar lawsuit. This was an obvious discrimination and might even be categorized as a hate crime! The law protecting Americans from being discriminated based on their race was passed in 1800’s and somehow Asians are still being hated and discriminated based on our color and race. This is a disgrace to America, and shame on all of you non-colored bigots!!!
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shif: “I did it for Justice.”:Any civil right lawyers who read my previous comment: please see if you can take this case and take it up to the court. All the evidence is there. Ms. Shih deserves monetary compensation and damages more than that $100 gift card due to the emotional distress and trauma caused by this hate crime. Asian Americans deserve justice more than $100 gift card for this kind of hate crime.
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.”: She has to want to take it forward and if she chooses, she can google Asian Americans Advancing Justice. I am sure they will take her case.
re: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.” The Peter Liang effect
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.” : You are not Asian because your comment didn’t help in any way. If you are, lead, follow, or get out of the way!
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.” : Asians are famous for not speaking up for ourselves or not taking a side. Therefore, next time if you take a side, please be clear and straightforward. We are fighting a serious battle!
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice”: @PT
Why is it the Peter Liang effect when she wants justice and wanted to be treated with respect like everyone else? Is it because you think Asian American shouldn’t be treated fairly and it is nothing but a provoked event when an Asian American wanted to be treated with the same level of respect as other racial groups?
RE: Exclusive interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.”: If this ever happened to me in the west coast, I’ll explore all the legal options and sue the crap out of them. I’ll document each and every step I took and their response to build my case. I am Asian American, I don’t take shit from anyone, let alone discrimination against Asians! I’ll make sure he doesn’t get a job for a very long time and search him up along the way.
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice”: Are you censoring comments? What are your criteria? What makes you more qualified to decide what is a correct comment?
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.” Maybe Shih can post on Yelp as well. That is her customer experience at that store.
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih:”I did it for justice.” WTF can NYPD help with, if they can’t help with this? Like WG mentioned above, the outcome would have been different if Shih was Black.
RE: Exclusive interview about racist encounter at Donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I Did it for justice.”: W.G., your comment is foolish. Instead of talking about what would happen if the person were Black, why don’t you focus on the incident at hand. I’m not sure why you feel you need to drag black people into this incident, but it’s irrelevant and goes to show that you’re likely just as racists as the Americans you criticize. I’m all for justice for this woman and what happened to her is unacceptable, but your comment is disgusting.
RE: Interview about racist encounter at donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.”: Ha. Sandeep who speaks accented English is making fun of Ms. Shih for her accent? Only in America, SMH. Let’s make American great again!
RE: Interview about racist encounter at Donut shop. Peiyin Shih: “I did it for justice.”: Dear AsAm News:
Thank you for reporting this news. Would you please really help to send your English texts to ALL major US news media to report this incident? Thus far, I have not yet seen any major news media picked it up. This is way too important for them to pick up the news and report. Otherwise, such discrimination toward any Asian American will never stop. This incident in particular, a toddler was also involved. That is bad. Thank you very much for your attention.
RE: Exclusive Interview about racist encounter at donut shop: Peiyin Shih: “I Did It for Justice.”She did the right thing about confronting the guy on his racism. We have to keep saying something. I don't know what I would have done, but I have done something in the past. While walking in Flushing, three Chinese people were having a conversation in the middle of the sidewalk on a busy street in Flushing. A girl walking by was annoyed that she had to go around them, I was as well. She said, "go back to your country." I was pissed and as I walking by her I said, "this is their country." She threatened me by saying, "do you want to get punched." I shook my head at her while saying, "get an education." She responded by saying she was educated. After I walked away, I couldn't believe I had just done that. I don't usually say anything and I wasn't taking martial arts at the time. I was mad at her saying something like that, especially in Flushing where almost everyone is Asian. That encounter made me feel better and maybe she'll think twice before saying something like that, maybe not, but you got to keep speaking up. If not for yourself, then for the kids. The kids will feel helpless if they don't see you doing something about it, even if you lose.