It’s been great to see Asian American athletes representing the US in the Tokyo Olympics. I saw Nikhil Kumar playing table tennis and found out he is an 18 year from my city of San Jose. Seeing athletes like Nikhil made this story from NBC News Asian America about the anti-Asian hate experiences Asian American athletes very meaningful, especially in the current atmosphere where Asian American allegiences are often questions.
A man harassed Sakura Kokumai, a karate competitor, saying things like”Chinese disgusting.” While he seemingly picked the wrong person to harass, the worst part, according to Sakura, was that only one person bothered to check on her. I found the experience of Yul Moldauer to be sad. Adopted from Korea and raised by American parents, he recounts the story of how a driver cut him off and started yelling “Go back to China!” at him. So wrong on so many levels.
Other Asian American Olympians have recently opened up about their experiences. Champion snowboarder Chloe Kim revealed in April that she first got anti-Asian messages when she was thirteen after winning a Silver at the 2014 X Games. The messages said that she should stop taking away medals from white American girls. After those messages, she would not speak Korean in public with her parents. She also revealed being spit on in public.
Despite these incidents, in an embedded video segment, reporter Vicky Nguyen concludes that elite level athletes like Kokumai and Moldauer are very resilient and can use experiences like these to motivate themselves. There are other Asian American athletes profiled too that I haven’t mentioned – suggest you take a look at the article and the accompanying video.