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Offensive Incident at Funeral Prompts Outrage, Puzzlement and Apology after Chinese Funeral

Carol Tan Wong

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

A bizarre, offensive and some say racist incident at a funeral for a 65-year-old Chinese American woman has prompted a “heartfelt apology” to the family.

Carol Tan Wong died of lung cancer at the age of 65. The Quincy, Massachusetts elementary school paraprofessional is described by her son Adrian as “a simple, principle-driven woman” who considered her “greatest wealth” to be her family.

Adrian gave a heartfelt eulogy at his mother’s funeral and then invited others to speak as well.

At first when David Small approached, Adrian told AsAmNews he was happy someone wanted to speak to honor his mother. Suddenly his joy turned to confusion. Small, who Adrian wrongly assumed was a co-worker of his mom, began going on a rant about the dangerous impact of smoke from incense.

“The smoke in the Asian church is so prevalent that I gag when I go inside,” Small said to those at the funeral. He then attempted to link Carol’s lung cancer to that smoke.

The funeral director quickly went up to cut Small off. Several videos of the incident have generated more than 60,000 views in just one week.

“In hindsight, after watching the video the following night I wished I could have gotten him off sooner, Carol’s son said. “Never in my wildest possibilities did I expect someone to come up and make such despicable comments. During his speech, David Small was quickly draining my patience. I tried my best to understand and give him the benefit of the doubt. I regret that now. I’m glad the funeral director stopped him gracefully without bringing additional attention to his inappropriate behavior. I quickly refocused my energy on the funeral proceedings leaving my thoughts and feeling to be processed afterwards.”

AsAmNews contacted small, a private investigator, to give him a chance to explain himself. Small did not know Carol, but said he was there with his girlfriend.

“It was certainly not my intention to hurt anyone,” Small said in response to questions from AsAmNews. “That I saw this as an opportunity to bring to light the possibility of reform to a community where incense smoke is an integral part of the Asian culture, and a likely health risk which should be altered for the betterment of the Asian community. In hind sight, this was an inappropriate time to bring this matter up.”

Adrian said he was offended and considered Small’s remarks racist. He compared it to someone speaking at an Irish funeral and linking alcohol consumption in the Irish community to someone’s death.

“Racism can appear benevolent and exist at a subconscious level,” he explained.

Small told AsAmNews he now understands the outrage.

“It’s not important what I think and it certainly was the wrong venue. What is important that I hurt someone else’s feelings and for that I’m truly sorry. Truth is if you’re not making mistakes, you’re just not learning. Sorry my lesson was paid for by others. A heartfelt apology to the Wong family.”

Adrian is appreciative that what happened to his mother is getting so much attention.

“I greatly appreciate your help in bringing my voice to the public,” he said.

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart.  We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, interning or joining our staff


  1. re: Offensive incident at funeral prompts outrage, puzzlement and apology after Chinese funeral: This video would be even better with a laugh track


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