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Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim says she's faced racist attacks since she was 13

The gold medalist got candid about how racist messages on social media have affected her mental health.
Team USA Media Summit
Snowboarder Chloe Kim spoke out about racist messages she receives on social media.Tom Pennington / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Like many public figures, Chloe Kim gets a lot of bizarre direct messages on her social media accounts, but far too many of them are filled with hurtful, racist words, the Olympian revealed this week.

In an Instagram story that has since expired, the accomplished snowboarder opened up about her personal experiences with racism and admitted that she feels "really helpless and afraid at times."

As reported by ESPN, Kim shared a screenshot Wednesday of a message she had received that read "You dumb Asian b----. Kiss my ass." In her post, Kim went on to explain that it's not unusual for her to receive such hurtful comments.

"I get hundreds of these messages and it breaks my heart that people think this type of behavior is okay," she wrote and acknowledged that she's "really struggling."

The following day, the Olympic gold medalist spoke with ESPN about the rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans in the United States. The 20-year-old explained that she's faced racist attacks on social media since early on in her career, and revealed that it began after she won her first medal at the 2014 X Games at the age of 13.

"People belittled my accomplishment because I was Asian," she told ESPN. "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?'"

The first-generation Korean American stopped speaking Korean to her parents in public after that moment and looks back on the moment with sadness.

"I was so ashamed and hated that I was Asian. I've learned to get over that feeling, and now I am so proud," she said.

The snowboarder admitted that she still receives around 30 hurtful messages on social media each day and hundreds per month, and explained why she decided to use her platform as a public figure to speak out on the rise in Anti-Asian hate.

"I was getting messages from people telling me I'm part of the problem because I was being silent," she 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 has been very private about the subject until now and said she hasn't really shared her experiences with friends, peers or her family. But she has noticed that the animosity towards Asian Americans has been rising for quite some time.

"I think it got worse when COVID started," she recalled. "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 Olympic gold medalist said she's been spit on in public before and said she always leaves her home prepared to defend herself in case of an attack.

"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."

To help with her own mental health, Kim took a much-needed break from social media for part of the last year.

"I used to love responding to my fans, but I don't look at my messages much anymore," she said. "Even if you get thousands of supportive messages, the hateful one will hit you the most."