For Asian American girls, Olympics reveal a harsh duality | Well being & Health


BEIJING (AP) — Throughout two pandemic Olympics set in Asian nations, Asian American girl fronting the Video games have encountered a whiplashing duality — prized on the worldwide stage for his or her medal-winning expertise, buffeted by the escalating disaster of racist abuse at dwelling.

The world’s most elite and worldwide sporting occasion, which pits athletes and nations in opposition to one another, underscores alongside the best way the crude actuality that many Asian girls face: of solely being seen after they have one thing to supply.

“It is like Asian American girls can’t win,” says Jeff Yang, an creator and cultural critic. “Asian American feminine athletes, like most Asian American girls in lots of different areas, are seen as worthy after they can ship … after which disposed of in any other case.”

The problem is enjoying out on the Beijing Winter Video games, the third straight Olympics set in Asia and the second held throughout the unrelenting world coronavirus disaster — and enjoying out, too, throughout an increase in hate crimes in opposition to Asian People.

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Right here, U.S. snowboarder Chloe Kim and China’s freestyle skier Eileen Gu are the newest additions to the record of American girls of Asian descent who’ve been “It Ladies” of the Winter Video games, becoming a member of icons like American determine skaters Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan.

When Kim and Gu earned their gold medals in Beijing, it was the right bow on skilled narratives which were coated incessantly main as much as the precise occasion. Their star energy and expertise made them two of the de facto spokeswomen for the Olympics.

In the meantime, different Asian American girls like determine skaters Karen Chen and Alysa Liu of the U.S. staff and Zhu Yi of the China staff have additionally been promoted by their nationwide groups and scrutinized — generally harshly — by Olympic followers.

Commentators have mocked Yi for falling within the staff occasion, as if she deserved the error after giving up her U.S. citizenship to compete for her ancestral homeland. Others are indignant that she “stole” the Olympic spot from an precise China-born athlete.

Even the winners wrestle to really feel totally embraced in America.

Kim, who received the halfpipe on the Beijing and Pyeongchang Olympics, has revealed she was tormented on-line each day. She says she was consumed by worry that her mother and father may very well be killed each time she heard information about one other brutal assault on an Asian particular person.

There have been greater than 10,000 reported anti-Asian incidents — from taunts to outright assaults – between March 2020 and September 2021, based on Cease AAPI Hate, a nationwide coalition that gathers knowledge on racially motivated assaults associated to the pandemic.

“The expertise of hate is withering, and it takes an enormous psychological well being toll,” says Cynthia Choi, the coalition’s co-founder. “Once we take into consideration the Olympics, it’s actually extremely highly effective to have taken place in Asia 3 times in a row. That context could be very important, and to have Asian People and Asians representing the US in these video games is greater than symbolic.”

Asian People and Pacific Islanders throughout the nation have endured racist verbal, bodily and generally lethal assaults for 2 years now, fueled by the pandemic.

Some perpetrators have based mostly their hate on the truth that the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China. Including to the combo: former President Donald Trump, who commonly talked about COVID-19 in racial phrases.

Gu, the daredevil freestyle skier who positioned first within the massive air competitors, stated she’d by no means been as scared as when a person directed a tirade concerning the coronavirus’ Chinese language origins in opposition to her and her immigrant grandmother at a San Francisco pharmacy.

The San Francisco native, vogue mannequin and social media determine has additionally been criticized with anti-China rhetoric for switching from the U.S. staff to the China staff. Conservative Fox Information personalities Tucker Carlson and Will Cain even devoted a phase to berating Gu, saying she was “ungrateful” and is “betraying her nation.”

These racially charged denunciations have been referred to as out on social media for being hypocritical. Phil Yu, who runs the favored Offended Asian Man weblog, tweeted succinctly: “Oh certain, it’s all the time ‘return to your nation’ however not ‘return to your nation and win a gold medal.’”

The dichotomy of the Asian American girl’s existence shouldn’t be restricted to Winter Olympians, although. In October, Hmong American gymnast Sunisa Lee stated she was pepper sprayed by somebody shouting racist slurs whereas driving by in a automobile. On the time, she was standing outdoors with a bunch of Asian American buddies in Los Angeles whereas filming the “Dancing with the Stars” TV present.

Lesser-profile Olympians from the Tokyo Video games like golfer Danielle Kang and karateka Sukura Kokumai spoke about their experiences with anti-Asian hate final summer season.

Kang stated she’s fought racism all her life and urged for a broader social research curriculum that might higher seize at present’s multicultural America.

“I’ve been informed to return to China. I don’t know why they suppose China is the one Asian nation,” stated the Korean American athlete. “I even have heard, ‘Do you eat canines for dinner?’ It’s nothing new to me. Nonetheless, the violence was very upsetting. However the violence additionally has been round. I’ve gotten into fist fights. I’ve grown up like this.”

Kokumai, who’s Japanese American, was indignant to find that the identical man who had harassed her in April with racist slurs additionally assaulted an aged Asian American couple.

Equally painful: colleagues’ silence when the incident was reported. She stated Japan’s coach referred to as her about it earlier than members of her U.S. staff did.

“It was actually hurtful that it took so lengthy for my facet of the federation to deal with it,” Kokumai stated final summer season.

In July, when Lee grew to become the shock breakout star of the Tokyo Olympics by successful gold within the all-around occasion and bronze on uneven bars, Sung Yeon Choimorrow, government director of the Nationwide Asian Pacific American Girls’s Discussion board, stated she felt conflicted about seeing Lee on a pedestal given the best way Hmongs have been marginalized.

“I’m actually wrestling with this concept that we’re all ‘American’ solely with regards to us being wonderful and successful medals for the nation,” Choimorrow stated. “Asian American girls are hyper-visible in ways in which dehumanize us and fully invisible within the ways in which humanize us.”

Seattle-based AP journalist Sally Ho is on project on the Beijing Olympics, overlaying determine skating. Comply with her on Twitter at

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