Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim admits she feels “really helpless and afraid at times” as she experiences racism on social media.
The 20-year-old snowboarder, who was born in California after her parents emigrated from South Korea, said she has been the victim of hateful attacks on social media since she won her first medal at X Games Aspen as a 13-year-old prodigy. Kim shared Wednesday for her more than 682,000 followers a private message she received on Instagram.
“You dumb Asian b—h,” the user wrote. “Kiss my ass.”
Kim added in her note that she gets “hundreds of these messages and it breaks my heart that people think this type of behavior is okay.”
Hate crimes in the United States against Asian-Americans are on the rise since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a United Nations report and the Stop AAPI Hate advocacy group. The pandemic originated in Wuhan, China, and some demonizing political rhetoric has associated China with the virus.
In a follow-up interview with ESPN, Kim said she fears for her safety and the safety of her family. To cope, she has deleted Instagram from her phone, turned off notifications and become less interactive with fans.
“Just because I am a professional athlete or won the Olympics doesn’t exempt me from racism,” Kim said. “I get hundreds of those kinds of messages monthly. I see maybe 30 a day.”
Former Knicks guard Jeremy Lin recently explained he faces racism on the basketball court, in addition to social media.
“I was getting messages from people telling me I’m part of the problem because I was being silent,” Kim said. “I was like, ‘Do you realize I’m also Asian American and this affects me?’ It was a lot of white people telling me they were upset at my silence.”
Kim lives in Los Angeles and brings Tasers, pepper spray and a knife with her when she leaves the house alone, according to the report.
“I think it got worse when COVID started,” Kim said. “I was trying to get in the elevator at my apartment one day and a woman was yelling at me and telling me, ‘No, you can’t get in here.’ Sometimes I feel like everyone hates me because I am Asian.”
The reigning Olympic halfpipe gold medalist recalled a heartbreaking scene from 2014, when she was barely a teenager. She celebrated a silver medal with an Instagram post.
“People belittled my accomplishment because I was Asian,” Kim said. “There were messages in my DMs telling me to go back to China and to stop taking medals away from the white American girls on the team. I was so proud of my accomplishment, but instead I was sobbing in bed next to my mom, asking her, ‘Why are people being so mean because I’m Asian?’”