Asian American City Council Candidate Branded with 'Foreigner' Label

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An undercurrent of racism has surfaced against an Asian American candidate running for City Council in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Hongbin Gu, 49, was barely a month old when her parents were sent to a labor camp during the Cultural Revolution in China. In 1989, she participated in pro-Democracy protests while attending college in Shanghai.

She came to Chapel Hill two decades ago with just $50 in her pocket and now has a PhD in mathematical psychology and is a faculty member in the psychiatry department at the UNC School of Medicine.

The Herald Sun reports several comments contrasting her to “homegrown Americans” and calling her candidacy “a shame” have been left on a local Facebook page.

“She’s not US born,” Douglas Roberts wrote. “What’s happened to us?”

Barbara Beard, another group member, wrote that it was “a shame” Gu was not “more qualified” and criticized her for championing “diversity.”

Several people have come to Gu’s defense. They listed off a group of prominent immigrants in public service including former Secretary of States Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright.

“The whole experience is very touching to me, to realize that overall in Chapel Hill and in Orange County there are people who are open-minded and are supportive to someone like me,” Gu said. “They don’t count me out simply because I’m an immigrant.”