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Reigning Olympic women's halfpipe gold medalist and first-generation Korean American Chloe Kim detailed her experiences with anti-Asian messages in a recent interview with ESPN.
The interview comes at a time when hate crimes targeted at Asians continue to rise in the United States. Kim shared screenshots on her Instagram story last week of someone sending her racist messages on social media, with the 20-year-old snowboarder commenting on her post, "I get hundreds of these messages and it breaks my heart that people think this type of behavior is okay."
Kim told ESPN's Alyssa Roenigk that she first began to receive the negative messages after winning a silver medal at the 2014 X Games, saying people diminished her achievement because she was Asian.
"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?'" she said.
Since then, Kim said she stopped speaking Korean to her parents in public and "was so ashamed and hated" that she was Asian. She added that she had been spit on in public before as well.
Kim said she has received more hate since the COVID-19 pandemic began. She felt she could not be silent about the hate as people throughout the United States have raised awareness to end Asian hate.
"Just because I am a professional athlete or won the Olympics doesn't exempt me from racism," Kim said.
She said she has deleted Instagram and turned off her social media notifications for parts of the past year, saying even if she gets supporting messages, "the hateful one will hit you the most." Kim said she worries not only for her parents safety, but also hers.
"Every time my parents step out the door, I think maybe I won't see them again or maybe I will get a call from the hospital that they were attacked.
"I never go anywhere by myself unless it's for a quick appointment or I know the place is crowded," Kim 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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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chloe Kim: Olympic snowboard gold medalist speaks out on Asian hate