‘Haters’ scream racist remarks at trustee candidate
Mimi Hu is running for one of the four trustee seats in the Great Neck Library election that
will be held on Monday, Oct. 29. Her campaign flyer begins, “I love books and I love our library.”
Hu’s credentials are impressive. The number one student in the top regional gifted high school in China, she was awarded a full scholarship to Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she was the number one student after just one year, earning a degree in both economics and physics. After working in finance, marrying her husband and having a son, she returned to school and is expecting to graduate from New York University Law School this spring. While living in Great Neck, she has served the Great Neck Public Schools and the Great Neck Chinese Association.
When negative comments were made about the LGBTQ community in a WeChat group discussion conducted in Chinese, Hu expressed her belief in equality and human rights for all members of society. Some members of the social media group found this distasteful and one of them, who had not been selected as a candidate by the Great Neck Library Nominating Committee and who did not get the petition signatures to become an independent candidate, launched a write-in campaign against Hu.
Instead of focusing on Hu’s love of books and the library, this write-in campaign has turned into a debate, fracturing the Chinese community in Great Neck.
While walking through the Street Festival and AutoFest in Great Neck Plaza with her 6-year-old son on Sunday, Oct. 21, Hu was verbally attacked in Starbucks and again even more aggressively on the street.
In Starbucks, a man walked up to Hu, identified himself as Bob Unger, and questioned Hu about a post he had received translated from Chinese on a social media site.
“I was in Starbucks, and I walked over to Mimi Hu and said, ‘Are you the person running for library trustee?’” said Unger, an attorney. “She said, ‘Yes, I hope you will vote for me.’ I asked her if it’s true that she thinks it’s normal for a man to marry a man. When she responded yes, I said, ‘You’re not normal.’”
Recounting the conversation by phone the following day, he explained, “Homosexuality has always been considered a mental disorder. You can stop, if you want to bad enough.”
A startled Hu and her young son headed outside only to be confronted by two women standing at the Great Neck Republican table. They stalked and verbally lashed out at Hu with vicious racial and transphobic slurs for several minutes, as many onlookers watched in disbelief. Mersedeh Rofeim shouted: “No transgenders to Great Neck. Take that sh*t to China.”
The Great Neck Chinese Association (GNCA), a group dedicated to holding onto Chinese culture while integrating into the Great Neck community, issued a statement of unity.
The letter, titled “GNCA Strongly Condemns Hate Speech Towards the Chinese and the LGBTQ Communities,” stated, “We, the board of Great Neck Chinese Association, most strenuously condemn this hate speech on the basis of sexual orientation and ethnicity. …Great Neck has always been a community that opens its arms to welcome people from all over the world. Many of our residents and their ancestors sought refuge here from wars, discrimination, persecution and inhuman living conditions from their native countries. Great Neck has long been a safe harbor for those who believe in hard work and seek a better life for their families.”
Robert M. Schaufeld, Esq., president of the Great Neck Library Board of Trustees, also condemned this behavior: “On behalf of myself, as president of the board and on behalf of the board, we denounce the reprehensible conduct that has occurred in connection with the upcoming library election. The library is the cultural center of the community and is open to all. We are aware of and condemn such behavior which abridges our civil liberties.”
The Northshore Asian Civic Association agreed: “We hope that this is an opportunity for all of us to rally together and start talking to each other. With civil dialogue, we can learn much from each other and be more tolerant and respectful. With your support, all of us can send a strong message that we will unite as a community to combat bigotry, intolerance and division.”
View another video from the street fair.
Learn more about the upcoming library election here.