Meet Plátano Man, the Dominican Who Went Viral for Stopping a Racist Woman on the Subway

Lead Photo: Photo by Emre Baser / Moment
Photo by Emre Baser / Moment
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In a time where diverse superheroes are making a splash (you should def check out Miles Morales, aka the only Spider-Man we acknowledge, on the big screen), it’s nice to know that our real life superheroes are also Afro-Latino. Just like Miles Morales, Plátano Man lives in Brooklyn, but instead of his tingling Spidey senses alerting him to trouble, he springs into action when he sees a racist encounter take place. Last week on a morning D train, Anna Lushchinskaya, a white woman, hurled racist insults at fellow passenger Michelle Tung, an Asian-American woman. And Plátano Man – née Juan Ayala – documented the incident and put himself at risk in the process.

While plenty of groggy eyed and grumpy passengers traveled on a D train on Tuesday morning, Lushchinskaya started yelling “fuck off” and calling Tung a “fucking ch*nk.” She then proceeded to put her gloves away and tie her hair up into a ponytail – something that made Plátano Man, who recorded the moment, raise an eyebrow – before she started kicking Tung. A man quickly interfered, but Anna continued to attack Tung, who defended herself, with her keys and umbrella. Ayala meanwhile provided quips and commentary, and when Anna used a slur, he loudly told her, “your white privilege ain’t working over here. Yo, fuck out of here with that racist shit.”

Eventually, Lushchinskaya directed her attention to Ayala, which is when he realized he’d have to perform a citizen’s arrest, something that brought him fear as a person of color. He thought about Jemel Roberson, a Chicago security guard who was killed as he performed a heroic act and detained a gunman.

“In the history of my life, I have never seen a Black person or a Dominican do a citizen’s arrest and be successful,” the 31-year-old told the New York Daily News. “Without those seven or eight witnesses, if those cops saw a Black guy holding onto a blonde girl, I probably would have been shot. I was a little freaked out. I’m not gonna lie.”

As for Anna, 40, she is now facings several charges, including weapons possessions, attempted assault, and harassment. It’s also not the first time she has wreaked havoc on the D train. Back in June, she used pepper spray on a full car. John Tainos confronted her about it, which is when she sprayed him. She was arrested for that incident as well.