Asian Americans are experiencing increased racism during COVID-19, according to two reports released on Sept. 17 by Stop AAPI Hate and the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign. Together, both reports provide a comprehensive look at the impact of racism and xenophobia against Asian American youth during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide key recommendations to decrease discrimination in schools.
The report, “They Blamed Me Because I Am Asian,” was written and analyzed by the Youth Campaign, a group of 87 high school interns, based on nearly 1,000 interviews that they conducted with AAPI youth this summer to explore how young people are coping with the rise in racism.
Findings show that eight out of 10 Asian American youth (77%) expressed anger over the current anti-Asian hate in this nation, and six out of 10 (60%) are disappointed over the racism. Incidents of harassment focused on blaming China and Chinese people as the source of the virus and on mocking Chinese dietary habits.
“My classmate said that the pandemic is due to poor decision-making by Chinese people (referring to their eating bats) and aimed this comment at me because I was the only Asian student at that table. They also stated that pandemics and global issues are always the fault of Chinese people,” said a 15-year-old who was interviewed.
“The constant feeling that I must have a heightened awareness of my surroundings whenever my family and I go outside made me feel vulnerable,” said Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign intern Cassie Eng. “As a young Asian American, the rise in anti-Asian sentiments are on my mind often.”
The Stop AAPI Hate report, in turn, looked at 341 incidents reported by youth, with 24 involving physical assault.
In 56% of these cases, perpetrators employed anti-Chinese hate speech, including blaming China and Chinese as the source of the virus and mocking Chinese dietary habits. Even though adults were present 48% of the time, bystanders intervened in only 10% of the cases.
“Some guys from my high school whom I did not know followed me home in their car. They honked very loudly at me, pulled up next to me, and when I looked up, they threw things at me from their car, pretended to cough on me, and said ‘Ching chong! You have Chinese virus!’ Then they drove away, rolling up their windows,” said a 14-year-old from Dallas, Texas.
The Stop AAPI Hate report offers six recommendations to address anti-Asian racism in schools, informed by “They Blamed Me Because I Am Asian” and by input from community and research experts:
- Intervene and investigate promptly and equitably all allegations and any form of harassment, particularly that targeting female students.
- Provide anti-racism training for teachers and administrators specifically addressing the current rise in anti-Asian hate and stereotypes of AAPI students. Integrate with social-emotional learning.
- Develop school-wide, anti-bullying policies, including a defined online policy, that encourage safe and accessible reporting systems and restorative justice approaches.
- Implement Ethnic Studies throughout the curriculum, so students learn the historic roots and impacts of racism, develop agency and empathy, and commit to racial solidarity and justice.
- Provide AAPI students with culturally sustaining and responsive wellness services.
- Empower AAPI students through affinity groups, student coalitions, and collective action toward educational and racial equity.
The Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign was created when students at the Urban School of San Francisco wanted a way to actively engage in the movement for racial justice. Their initiative quickly became a national campaign as 87 high school interns soon signed up to increase youth reporting to Stop AAPI Hate. The campaign is funded by the Jeremy Lin Foundation.
“One of the things that most concerns me about the rising anti-Asian racism during this pandemic is how it will affect the next generation of Asian Americans and their sense of self-worth,” said Jeremy Lin. “The Jeremy Lin Foundation wanted to support Stop AAPI Hate to help empower more Asian American youth to speak up for themselves and fight against racism. The students’ thoughtfulness and willingness to engage with these issues inspire me.”