July 30, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Olympic champion Chloe Kim speaks about dealing with racism

It was only a few years ago, just before the 2018 Winter Olympics, that Chloe Kim joked about growing up Korean American in Southern California.

“What do they call it? Yeah, banana,” she told a group of reporters. “Asian on the outside, white on the inside.”

The champion snowboarder’s heritage is no longer a laughing matter. This week, amid a national rise in hate crimes against Asians, she posted a screenshot of an angry, racist direct message sent to her on social media.

“Just because I am a professional athlete doesn’t exempt me from racism,” she posted on Instagram.

In an interview with ESPN, Kim talked about receiving ugly messages from strangers on social media and facing racism in her daily life.

“It got worse when COVID started,” she 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.”

Kim won gold in the women’s halfpipe at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, cementing her place atop women’s snowboarding and emerging as one of the biggest American stars at the Games. Upon returning home, the La Palma native took a break from sports to begin classes at Princeton.

With the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing less than a year away, the 20-year-old has returned to training and competition. But recent events have taken their toll.

In addition to fearing for her family’s safety, Kim has felt pressure to speak publicly on political and social issues.

“I was getting messages from people telling me I’m part of the problem because I was being silent,” she told ESPN. “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.”