Lee, a professional sports player and member of the Overwatch League Dallas Fuel team, was asked by a fan during a livestream how it has been for him since he moved to Texas this year. “Being Asian here is scary, seriously,” he said in comments translated from Korean. “People are trying to keep fighting with us. Every time they see me, it’s like Americans want to come up to us, and there are even people coughing at us. … This is the first time I’ve experienced racism. And it always is – it’s pretty serious. And they are trying to scare us ̵
The video, taken from Amazon’s live streaming service Twitch, was translated by Jade Kim, 26, manager of Florida Mayhem, another Overwatch League team. Kim said when she first came across the clip from Lee, “it just whipped me.” (Twitch is owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)
Since coming to the United States in college, Kim has said she has seen her fair share of racism, and hearing Lee’s comments reminded her of “the shock when I first experienced racism in the United States myself.” Greetings from South Korea, where being Asian meant being part of the majority, Kim said she was doubly shocked to arrive in America and learn about racially motivated harassment and see the reactions of Asian Americans who were tired and withdrew after faced racism over extended periods.
“My first reaction after contacting people I knew in the Dallas staff was just not saying anything else,” said Kim, who often goes by the name “swing piece” on social media. “But with everything that’s happened in the United States lately, I could not let myself be folded away either, so I ended up translating the clip and posting it.”
Kim explained his motivations and said: “Yes, I’m not employed in Dallas, and yes, I do not feel fearless personally, but I’m also Korean. I’m also Asian, ”she said. “I felt it gave me enough reason to speak out and spread the word about it.”
Kim recalled an incident in February 2020 on a commercial flight from Florida to Philadelphia with player Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung-woo, 23, when he competed playing with the Overwatch League Florida Mayhem.
Tells about the incident for The Post, Ha, who is now a pro “Valorant” player with the organization T1, said that a white passenger lifted the phone high up and took several pictures of the Mayhem team during the whole flight, while Ha tried to cheat. . Ha then noticed that she sent a text message to someone that there were so many “Chinese” on the plane, and sent pictures of the team. The person she texted responded with a swear word and said, “Kill them all.”
Ha told The Post in comments translated from Korean by Kim, that at that time he had already experienced several racist incidents, and just thought, “she was extremely pathetic.”
“I learned more about it later,” Kim said. “But the grief and anger I felt he had experienced was quite strong to say the least.”
Lee, often referred to by the player name “Fearless”, signed with Dallas Fuel on November 7 last year, in the Overwatch League offseason. He had previously played for the Shanghai Dragons, and arrived in Dallas, where Fuel coaches and plays, early this year. On the stream, Lee began to tell how people he saw used not to wear face masks, while he and his team members wanted to wear face masks. Then he switched gears to talk about racially motivated harassment he was facing.
Lee described being cursed for the race, saying he noticed he was treated differently, depending on whether he was wearing the team jersey or regular clothing.
“I wear my team uniform on purpose,” he said on the stream. “If I wear the jersey, I think they understand that we are part of a kind of team, so they do not bother us so much. But if I wear my everyday clothes, they run up to us, harass us and run away. ”
Activision Blizzard, which runs the Overwatch League, responded in a statement late Tuesday. “At Activision Blizzard, we strongly condemn racism,” the statement said. “We stand with the Asian community, our employees and our players and work across our organization, including esports, to do our part to combat hatred and ignorance.”
Mike Rufail, founder and CEO of Envy Gaming, which owns and operates Dallas Fuel, tweeted Tuesday night that he was “deeply saddened” by what his players encountered as they walked the streets of Texas.
While Dallas Fuel members were trained in what to expect when they arrived in their new city and how to prepare for people to start conversations with them, they were not trained in how to respond to racist harassment.
“It’s a little shocking to be so close to our front door here,” Rufail told The Washington Post on Wednesday. “When they landed here, we did not prepare them for specific incidents such as racism.”
The events Lee described happened around the Victory Park area and the American Airlines Center, home to the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and NHL’s Dallas Stars, when crowds would usually gather for sporting events, Rufail said. He added that the team has informed Victory Park and the building’s security team to monitor the area more closely.
In some sports communities, especially in the Overwatch League, many players are of Asian descent, and some do not speak fluent English. It can lead to a sense of connection between English-speaking fans and Asian players, noted Kim, the Florida Mayhem boss.
“It’s part of our job, to show people that the players on the team, even though some of them do not speak the best English and they are Korean national players, they live here in the United States now. They are like you and me, they are like everyone else, ”said Rufail. “We’ll continue to … do a lot more content around the team to show their personality, and I think people who may have a bit of a, we would say discriminatory type of personality, can understand a little better that our Korean players can get contact them in a way they may not have known before. ”
Other prominent people in the sports industry have also experienced racially motivated harassment.
“I’m not surprised, but it still hurts to hear,” said Harrison “Psalm” Chang, 26, a professional “Valorant” player who previously finished second at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, about his reaction to the virus. clip of Lee.
Chang said in his online social media interactions that random people have left him with racist comments about having small eyes, eating dogs or commenting on “ching chong”, a racist slur that mocks Asian languages.
“I’ve been experiencing these comments for as long as I’ve been online,” he said, adding that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic originating in China has provided “extra fuel” to people who already disliked Asians.
Ashley Kang, 31, owner and interviewer of Korizon Esports, a League of Legends-centric media outlet and YouTube channel, also recalled receiving racist comments. Kang is based in Seoul, but comes from New Zealand.
“I remember a dozen occasions where I was called ching chong by strangers as I walked the streets of New Zealand and Berlin,” she said. “Still, it should no less normalize my own or the fearless experience.”
Some sports organizations have made statements against the recent wave of anti-Asian attacks. Andbox, who owns the New York Excelsior team in the Overwatch League, said on March 16: “Racial discrimination has no place in our world, but members of the Asian community in New York and around the country are still victims of hate speech and actions. We are proud of this community and reject this behavior. “Then organizations were listed that supported Asian communities.
Kang said that while racism is an issue that extends beyond esports, “the esports industry can also do its part to stand up to the current situation and promote change. I respected many sports organizations for issuing #StopAsianHate statements. Visibility matters. , and is often the first step in bringing about change. ”
Esports leaders emphasized being proactive.
“Several sports companies may be in the process of having to go through one of these situations to do something about it,” said Rufail, founder of Envy Gaming. “Absolutely at Envy, even when we do not review things like this in the future, we will try to create awareness in certain areas for this just because I see that it is starting to wrap the fabric throughout this country. And maybe it’s been a long time. ”