QUINCY (CBS) – A Quincy family was stunned when a stranger suddenly got up at their mother’s funeral and started making comments which they feel were racially insensitive to the Asian community.
On March 18th, Adrian Wong delivered the eulogy to his mother who passed away from lung cancer.
“She was not a smoker. Not exposed to secondhand smoke. Never worked with chemicals. She was simply unlucky,” he told a room full of mourners.
Adrian was supposed to be the only speaker, but when he finished, a man named David Small, who the family didn’t know, got up, uninvited, and started addressing mourners.
Small speculated that it was “smoke in Asian churches” that led to Carol Tan Wong’s death.
“I’m not affected by this but I see that the smoke in the church in the Asian churches is so prevalent that I gag when I go inside,” Small said, adding when a funeral director asked him to step aside, “I hope what I’ve told you about the smoke in the church is not taken in offense. I mean it’s your culture.”
The Wong family was offended and posted a video of Small’s comments on YouTube.
Adrian Wong demanded an apology from Small because he believed the comments to be a broad misperception about the Asian community.
“I find it very offensive and I think the community should as well. We thought it was wildly inappropriate to use a broad comment about the entire community,” Wong told WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud. “I think he owes an apology not just to me, but to the entire community.”
Small, a private investigator in Quincy, told WBZ-TV he was invited to the funeral by his girlfriend who he says is Asian.
He described himself as “outspoken” and admitted that the funeral home wasn’t the appropriate place to make his comments. Small said he was trying to make the point that in his opinion there’s a “high rate of smoking in the Asian community, and Asians burn incense in their churches, which is a health risk.”
Small says he sends a heartfelt apology to the Wong family.