Public Harassment:I’m a proud adoptee. Born in South Korea…

I’m a proud adoptee. Born in South Korea, I grew up in the United States. As a child, I was teased because of the way I looked. I remember people calling me “flat face” and “commie” at school. It was hurtful, but I always brushed it off, excusing them because they were kids. I told my mom that they didn’t mean what they said.

As an adult, I thought I was immune to racism. But that changed a couple years ago. I experienced two racist incidents that deeply saddened me. The first involved a woman whom I interacted with on the phone and by email, through my volunteer work with a community service organization. She had apparently looked me up online and then left me a series of hate-filled voicemails — all within a few hours. She called me “disgusting” and a “pan face,” and she threatened to kill me in the last message.

It was the first time in my life that I was worried about my safety. I immediately changed my number, installed a home security system, and filed a police report.

The second incident happened early on in the pandemic. I struggled with what I could do to help others and decided to volunteer with a food bank. During a food drive at a grocery store, a man approached me, and when I asked him if he’d like to donate to the cause, he told me that I should be giving him all my money because I started COVID.