New Report Studies Anti-Asian Sentiment in the COVID Era
WASHINGTON — The pandemic led to increased bias against Asians according to a recent report. The RAND Corporation recently published findings from a series of surveys that identified key themes regarding the causes of, reaction to, and mitigation measures against anti-Asian racism in the context of the pandemic.
The report’s authors contend that a history of anti-Asian sentiment existed in the U.S. prior to COVID, but was exacerbated due to public anxiety and fear during the health emergency.
“[During COVID] there was a signal to the country that blaming people who look Chinese was okay, and for many people, they’re not going to … distinguish between Chinese Americans or other Asian Americans,” one survey respondent was quoted in answer to why negative attitudes toward Asians may be more pronounced in the pandemic.
Few data sources tracked anti-Asian hate incidents prior to COVID, but between March 19, 2020, and June 30, 2021, close to 9,100 reports of COVID-19-related racially motivated incidents against AAPIs were reported across the U.S. And the report’s authors suggest this violence happened alongside “historically entrenched and persistent anti-Asian racism at individual and systemic levels in the U.S.”
But in interviews with local and national organizations serving AAPI communities in California — where the largest Asian American population in the U.S. resides — researchers learned more about how these attacks, which led to fear and anxiety, also galvanized many in the AAPI community to make alliances and build resilience.
Second generation AAPI, in particular, focused on the injustice of anti-Asian sentiment, visibility, advocacy, “and responding to [the] attacks rather than… saving face or not saying anything,” which report authors said first-generation AAPI were more likely to do.
Solutions suggested by these champions for AAPI resilience include improving ways to report hate incidents, public education about the history of Asian cultures to dismantle stereotypes, and increasing the community’s sense of safety and unity across racial and ethnic groups by supporting groups that serve the AAPI population.
Among the help these groups offer are essential direct assistance for assimilation and translation services, immigration and legal issue resources, and aid related to mental health. Because addressing anti-Asian hate in the COVID-era will require strategies both to address racially-motivated violence and the underlying racism inherent in the nation’s history.
As a survey respondent explained, “After the Atlanta shooting, what families wanted and needed was direct help that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.”
Kate can be reached at [email protected]