"Dancing With The Stars" frontrunner Suni Lee is revealing that she was the target of recent racist bigotry in Los Angeles.
While chatting about her post-Olympic life with Pop Sugar, the gymnast recalled an incident in which she and several friends — all of Asian descent — were waiting for an Uber on the sidewalk. While there, a car sped by and the group inside the vehicle began shouting racist slurs.
"Go back to where they came from," one person shouted, Suni, 18, remembered.
One passenger in the car even sprayed her arm with pepper spray as it sped off.
"I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," she recalls. "I didn't do anything to them, and having the reputation, it's so hard because I didn't want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen."
It's well known that anti-Asian hate, fueled by COVID-19 misinformation, is rising in America.
As a United States gold medalist, Suni, who was born in Minnesota, is hoping to use her platform to make a difference.
Suni is also coming into her own, and she's discovering that it's ok to be vulnerable. On a recent "DWTS" episode she was suffering mentally and physically from her on-the-go schedule, as she was having bouts of nausea. She went on to speak about her mental health on Instagram.
"When I shared that I was feeling down, so many people reached out and either sent positive messages of encouragement or told me they were feeling similarly and not to feel alone," she said. "It's OK to feel down sometimes, but what I've realized is that it's important to express your feelings and ask for help. In the past, I might have pushed on and not acknowledged the state of my mental health. But there's so much power in owning your feelings. It's not weakness, it's actually taking control."