On April 7, it was reported that Korean pro gamers in the United States are suffering from anti-Asian racism in their everyday lives.
Lee “Fearless” Euiseok, a pro Overwatch player with Dallas Fuel, shared some of the horrific experiences that he went through during his livestream. He shared, “I suffer from racism at least once a day. Being Asian here is terrifying; people keep trying to pick fights with us. Americans come up to us and deliberately cough on us. They’ll cuss us out, while laughing.”
This video was taken from Fearless' livestream, which was translated and posted on Twitter by the manager of the Florida Mayhems
Both Sp9rk1e and Fearless have expressed how things were different in America back in the days, and that the anti-Asian racism has gotten a lot worse. Fearless shared, “Back in 2018, life in the U.S was very peaceful”, and Sp9rk1e shared, “When I was in New Jersey back in 2020, there were protests and riots, but I’ve never experienced any direct racism towards Asians.”
Despite Dallas Fuel’s hectic schedule, Inven Global had a chance to briefly speak with the Assistant General Manager of Dallas Fuel, Helen “Dear” Jang, who provided more context on what actually happened.
“Our offices are located right in front of the American Airlines center, which is where all the hockey games for Dallas Stars are held. This area’s usually quiet when there are no hockey games; From the way that players described the incident, it was during the time when there were a lot of people gathered for the game. We’re assuming that the people in question were drunk hockey fans that interacted with our players, and two of our players, Fearless and SP9RK1E, had to go through such a terrible experience.”
Dear also shared how the players couldn’t say nor do anything at the time. “The way that reacted was, ‘This is Texas’. The players don’t speak English very well, so even if they were upset and frustrated, they can’t really say anything back to them. They also didn’t want to do anything in response because they didn’t want any unwanted conflict. Furthermore, there are a lot of people carrying firearms in Texas, so anything can happen; they quietly stood still until they walked back to our office.”
“I was infuriated, but there’s only so much I can do. The part that saddened us the most was that Fearless didn’t bring this up to any of the management/coaching staff. We found out through that video, and at this point, it felt like he just accepted the fact that this is how America is. It’s horrible, but he must’ve felt that there’s nothing that could be done about it. He’s definitely aware that the whole situation worsened because of the pandemic, because he heard the horror stories of the hate crime against the AAPI. He didn’t really show any emotion regarding the whole incident, so before the video went viral on Twitter, we would’ve never guessed that such incidents happened.”
Currently, the players on Dallas Fuel cannot even go out on their own. In the original clip, Fearless shared, “I wear my jersey outside on purpose, in order to make them think that I’m here to work.” His teammate, Kim “Sp9rk1e” Yeong-han, also shared, “Whenever we go outside, we always go out with our teammates.”
Dear also shared, “Whenever players leave the office, we always have someone accompany them. We have a total of four built men, including our general manager, Matthew “TazMo” Taylor, mental coach, Mike MacCrory, and Mike "Hastr0" Rufail, our co-owner who also spoke up on this matter on Twitter, offered to do so as well. Because these players are family, they’re there to speak up for them, should it ever be necessary.”
“The OWL also took this matter very seriously, and on the opening day of the season, Blizzard actually made a video that sent a message against Anti-Asian racism. Everyone in the scene showed so much support on the matter, but it also makes me sad that this is the best we can do right now. This isn’t something that we can change overnight, so raising awareness and educating people is just the first step.”
Growing up as a Korean-American herself, she shared some of her personal experiences as well. She also emphasized that anti-Asian racism exists outside of the U.S. as well, where she recounted her experiences at Europe in 2019.
“I think that many Asian people can relate to some of the things I’ve experienced. People automatically assume that I’m Chinese, and they come up to me and say ‘Ni Hao’, because that’s probably the only Asian language that they know. I’ve fortunately never been called any racial slurs myself, but I remember getting upset by my dad asking me what the word, ‘chink’ means, because someone was walking down the street and used that word to him.”
“Mild form of racism, where they’d use any Asian language to greet, is something that’s more common. They don’t know, or even care that I’m Korean; they just think that’s funny. This isn’t just something that happens in America: I was in Europe for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship, and the same thing happened when I was in France and in Madrid. Some people aren’t culturally educated; they’re just ignorant and don’t even think it’s a problem. That’s the reality of the issue at hand.”
"Maybe a part of the reason why I don’t recall any personal experiences is because just like Fearless, I’m conditioned to just think, ‘This is the way America is’. Maybe it’s always been happening around me, but never realized that it was. I’m slowly realizing that I’ve been so numb to racism."
Towards the end of our short conversation, Dear sent a message to those that condone, partake, or even ignore any form of racism.
"To those that decide to ignore it and stay silent are cowards; it all starts from calling people out whenever you see someone be racist. As previously mentioned, this isn’t something that can be changed overnight, so educate people whenever necessary. Whoever feels the same way as I do, needs to be more aware and take action."
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