Hate crimes targeting Asian communities and people of Asian descent have become more common in the US over the past year, fueled in part by racist rhetoric that falsely blames China and Chinese people for the coronavirus pandemic.
This week, a South Korean Overwatch League pro has opened up about the racism he and his teammates have endured since relocating to Texas a few months ago. Dallas Fuel main tank Lee "Fearless" Eui-seok took to Twitch to discuss his experience living and training in Dallas in the middle of the pandemic, as a native South Korean.
"Being Asian here is terrifying, seriously," Lee said in the clip, which has been translated by Florida Mayhem manager Jade Kim. "People keep trying to pick fights with us… It's really serious. I think Koreans living overseas should be careful."
i dont know if i'm "stepping out of line" for translating something about what another team's player is experiencingbut here's the full translation of that Fearless clip.please see some of what OWL players and staff are facing as Asians in America. pic.twitter.com/LZWvnRkuAxApril 6, 2021
Lee also described how he and his teammates have been subjected to strangers approaching them, often without masks, who "pretend to fucking cough" on them, being called "fucking Chinese" along with other harassment.
"The racism here is unspeakable," Lee continued. "People keep harassing us. It's been happening basically every day. It's my first time ever experiencing racism, it's pretty severe." Lee, who is 22, also said that he's begun regularly wearing his Dallas Fuel team uniform as it appears to alleviate the abuse he receives: "If I have my jersey on, I think they realise we're part of some kind of team, so they don't bother us as much. But if I have my everyday clothes on, they run up to us, harass us then run away."
Dallas Fuel owner Mike Rufail tweeted out a video response to Lee's clip. "I am deeply saddened by the situations some of our Dallas Fuel players have been put in while walking the streets here in Dallas, TX," Rufail captioned the tweet.
"The players that we have are already near and dear to my heart, even though we've only had the roster for a few months," Rufail continued in his video. "We're doing everything we can to make our players feel comfortable; our players are our family."
I am deeply saddened by the situations some of our @DallasFuel players have been put in while walking the streets here in Dallas, TX. This is a great city in a proud state. This isn't something we should be proud of at all and should all pitch in to change it. pic.twitter.com/Sq7MGlco50April 6, 2021
Dallas Fuel assistant manager Helen "Dear" Jang also echoed Rufail's statement, saying that "the players' safety is our top priority since day one… We cannot control how others behave, but there will be a solution to ensure that the players are protected."
Blizzard, who operates Overwatch League, provided this statement to Polygon: "At Activision Blizzard, we condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. We stand with the Asian community, our employees, and our players and are working across our organization, including esports, to do our part to combat hate and ignorance."
Lee's story comes amid a wave of anti-Asian violence in the US. The New York Times reports "more than 110 episodes since March 2020 in which there was clear evidence of race-based hate." In Chicago this month, a Chinese-American man out jogging was "spit at by two women who threw a log at him," according to the Times, who told him to "go back to China." In Texas, a 19-year-old stabbed two children, ages 2 and 6, and an older family member in a Sam's Club grocery store, attacking because he believed they were “Chinese and infecting people with the coronavirus,” according to an FBI report.
Amid this crisis, a number of resources have emerged to help people educate themselves on how to end racist violence and support victims. Here are just a few:
- A great hub for anti-Asian violence education, mental health helplines and worthy causes to donate to
- Stop Asian Hate GoFundMe
- Why it's wrong (and racist) to blame Covid-19 on Chinese 'wet markets'
- Hate is a Virus fund
- Asian Americans Advocating Justice
- AAAJ Bystander Intervention Training
- National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
- Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education