LOS ANGELES – US Olympic snowboarding champion Chloe Kim has revealed she receives racist abuse on social media on a daily basis amid a surge of anti-Asian violence in the United States.
The 20-year-old 2018 Olympic halfpipe gold medallist, whose parents are from South Korea, told ESPN in an interview she fears for her safety after detailing how she is bombarded with racist abuse.
On Wednesday, Kim posted a screenshot of a racist message she had received on Instagram earlier that day.
“I get hundreds of these messages and it breaks my heart that people think this type of behavior is okay,” Kim explained in an accompanying post. “I feel really helpless and afraid at times. I’m really struggling.”
Speaking with ESPN on Thursday, the California-born star said she receives several hundred abusive messages a month.
“Just because I am a professional athlete or won the Olympics doesn’t exempt me from racism,” she said. “I get hundreds of those kinds of messages monthly. I see maybe 30 a day.”
Kim said anti-Asian abuse had been a feature of her career ever since she was in her early teens when she won a silver medal at the 2014 X Games in Aspen.
“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?’”
Kim said she had noticed an uptick in abuse since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Activists have attributed the rise in violence against Asian-Americans to the rhetoric of former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly characterised Covid-19 as the “China virus”.
“I think it got worse when Covid started,” Kim told ESPN. “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.”
Kim added that she now takes precautions whenever she leaves her home in Los Angeles.
“I never go anywhere by myself unless it’s for a quick appointment or I know the place is crowded,” she said.
“I have Tasers, pepper spray, a knife. If I go outside to walk my dog or go to the grocery store, my fanny pack has all three of those in it and my hand never leaves my side.”
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