“You dumb Asian b–,” it read. “Kiss my butt.” In the Instagram story post, Kim added,”I get hundreds of those messages and it breaks my heart that people think this kind of behavior is okay.” Currently 20, Kim clarified that she has received similar messages since she won her first medal at X Games Aspen at age 13. “I feel very helpless and afraid occasionally,” she wrote. “I’m really fighting.”
“I had been getting messages from people telling me I am part of the issue since I was being silent,” Kim told ESPN. “I was like,’Do you understand I am also Asian American and this affects me?’ It was lots of white folks telling me they had been upset at my silence”
Kim said she expected her Instagram post raised awareness about the prevalence of Asian American hatred and illustrated that she, also, deals with discrimination on a daily basis. Her silence wasn’t due to apathy, she said, but fear. “Just because I’m a professional athlete or obtained the Olympics does not exempt me from racism,” Kim stated. “I get a huge number of these sorts of messages monthly. I see maybe 30 a day.”
The social media abuse started when Kim was 13, after she won her first medal, a silver in the halfpipe, at the 2014 X Games in Aspen, Colorado. After the competition, she posted a photograph of her medal on Instagram, where she already had hundreds of thousands of followers. She became emotional describing what occurred next.
“People belittled my achievement since I was Asian,” Kim stated. “You will find messages within my DMs telling me to return to China and to quit taking medals away from the white American girls on the team. I was so proud of my achievement, but instead I was sobbing in bed next to my mom, asking her,’Why are people being mean since I’m Asian?'”
Kim speaks fluent Korean, but”after that instant, I ceased talking Korean to my parents in people,” she said. “I was ashamed and hated that I was Asian. I’ve learned to get over that sense, and now I am so proud.”
During the next several decades, as Kim became the most dominant woman from the game, she continued to be given a constant flow of hateful messages. She said she has been spit on in people. But she didn’t share those experiences with her peers or friends and hid most of it out of her family. Last year, she’s noticed the hostility rising and felt she could not remain silent.
“I think it made worse when COVID started,” Kim stated. “I had been trying to get in the elevator in my flat one day and a girl was yelling at me and telling me no, you can’t get in here. Occasionally I feel like everyone hates me because I’m Asian.”
Kim said when she leaves her house in Los Angeles, whether to compete in the world championships or walk into the shop, she fears for her own safety.
“I never go anywhere by myself unless it’s for a quick appointment or I understand the area is crowded,” she explained. “I have Tasers, pepper spray, a knife. If I go outside to walk my dog or visit the grocery store, my fanny package has all three of those in it and my hand never leaves my side.”
Kim also stated she fears for her parents since most of the current strikes against Asian Americans have been against elderly men and women. “Every time my parents step out the door, I think perhaps I will not see them or perhaps I will find a call from the hospital that they were attacked,” Kim stated.
For part of this last year, Kim switched off her social networking notifications and deleted Instagram from her phone. “I used to love reacting to my fans, but I don’t look at my messages much anymore,” she explained. “Even if you get tens of thousands of messages that are encouraging, the more hateful one will hit one of the most.”