Naperville trail attack on Chinese-American man leaves many uneasy

  • Nancy Chen

    Nancy Chen

  • Elgin Unit District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders says the district is seeing gaps in e-learning participation among low-income families and minorities.

    Elgin Unit District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders says the district is seeing gaps in e-learning participation among low-income families and minorities. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Dr. Courtney Coke

    Dr. Courtney Coke

  • Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy

    Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy

Updated 4/24/2020 6:44 PM

A March 21 attack on a Chinese American man jogging along a Naperville trail has left the Asian community there uneasy, says resident Nancy Chen.

The women spit on and threw sticks at the man and told him "to go back to China," Chen said.


"It just does not reflect the kind of Naperville that I have been calling home for almost now 50 years," she said.

A Naperville Crime Stoppers poster shows two unidentified women who are wanted for questioning and offers a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Naperville police are investigating.

Chen, an advisory board member of United Chinese Americans Illinois Chapter, is urging the Naperville City Council to adopt a resolution condemning racism and supporting Asian Americans.

Viral racism

Since March 19, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council's STOP AAPI HATE reporting center has received more than 1,100 reports nationwide of coronavirus-related discrimination against Asian Americans.

A majority of incidents occurred in grocery stores, pharmacies and big box retail stores, the center reports.

Chen said there's been a rise in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes in the wake of President Donald Trump and other politicians labeling COVID-19 a "Chinese virus."

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E-learning access gaps

Suburban educators are realizing gaps in student access to e-learning due to technological challenges affecting low-income and minority families.

At Elgin Area School District U-46, officials are seeing a significant drop in participation among Hispanic and African American students. Attendance rates post-COVID-19 lockdown declined during the first week of distance learning -- from 95% to 90% among Asians, from 94% to 89% among whites, from 92% to 76% among Hispanics, and from 90% to 66% among blacks.

"Internet access is obviously a big issue with some families," U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders said. "We are working on a solution for that. We are doing a second round of technology distribution this week. Another one is planned when additional devices arrive."

Free food

The Islamic Foundation in Villa Park will begin distributing free food and groceries to community members in need starting today.

The event will run from 1 to 4 p.m. at the mosque on 300 W. Highridge Road.


"We have been doing this for the last three years all through the year," foundation Chairman Aftab Khan said. "This year, we have distributed food and groceries to over 1,000 needy families."

The foundation is seeking donations for its Chicago Food Distribution Program, which has collected nearly $12,700 toward a $100,000 goal.

COVID-19 support helpline

A coalition of religious, civic and social service organizations from the greater Chicago area has formed a task force to coordinate COVID-19 support services. It includes free tele-health consultations, access to medical, mental health and dental care, food distribution, emergency monetary assistance, and help filing for unemployment benefits. To access services, call the helpline, (847) 737-1785, staffed by professionals and volunteers.

The task force comprises members of Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, local and national relief agencies, associations of medical and dental professionals and community service groups.

More black docs

Being comfortable with one's doctor is key to dealing with any health crisis. For blacks, it's harder to build that trust when most doctors don't look like them, and that can be an issue in the suburbs, experts say.

"To open yourself up and be vulnerable, you want to do that typically among people who understand the nuances," said Dr. Courtney Coke, an African American radiation oncologist at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin. "That vulnerability requires certain sensibility on the part of physicians. Historically, patients who are of diverse backgrounds may not feel comfortable venturing outside of their traditional spaces."

Having a culturally competent physician empowers patients, he added.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic with Madhu Krishnamurthy at

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