Asian Americans: Attitudes and Threats
Luis Noe-Bustamante and colleagues at Pew
Amid ongoing reports of racially motivated threats and attacks against Asians in the United States, a majority of Asian Americans say violence against them is increasing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Most Asian Americans also worry about being threatened or attacked, with a third saying they have changed their daily routine because of these concerns.
Overall, about six-in-ten Asian adults (63%) say violence against Asian Americans in the U.S. is increasing, while 19% say there has not been much change and 8% say it is decreasing. This is down somewhat since last year, when 81% of Asian Americans said violence against them was increasing.
In an open-ended question that accompanied the 2021 survey, a majority of those who perceived rising violence against Asian Americans attributed it to former President Donald Trump, racism, COVID-19 and its impact on the nation, and scapegoating and blaming Asian people for the pandemic.
In the new survey, about one-in-five Asian Americans say they worry daily (7%) or almost daily (14%) that they might be threatened or attacked because of their race or ethnicity, while 51% say they worry sometimes, 18% rarely worry and 10% say they never worry.
Among those who worry rarely or more often, about a third of Asian adults (36%) say they have altered their daily schedule or routine in the past 12 months due to worries that they might be threatened or attacked.
Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) and The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) today announced the findings of the second annual "STAATUS" Index—Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the U.S.—a comprehensive, annual assessment of American attitudes of Asian Americans. The survey reveals that nearly one third of Americans are unaware of anti-Asian violence despite a nearly 340 percent increase of attacks against Asian Americans in 2021 and one in five Americans believe Asian Americans are at least partly responsible for COVID-19.
The survey is based on a national sample of 5,113 U.S. residents, aged 18 and over, conducted online between February 10 and February 28, 2022. LAAUNCH and TAAF partnered on this year's STAATUS Index to illuminate harmful misperceptions of Asian Americans that are leading to the unprecedented rise in scapegoating and anti-AAPI violence.
"This year's STAATUS Index is very alarming as it makes clear that attitudes toward Asian Americans are getting worse, not better at a time when our communities continue to come under attack. The survey found Asian Americans are more likely to be blamed for COVID-19 than we were in 2021, more likely to be questioned for our loyalty to the United States, and that we are among the least likely to feel that we belong in this country. These results reveal just how deeply embedded anti-Asian sentiment is in America right now, fueled by generations of systemic racism that has pervaded every aspect of our society and culture," said Norman Chen, Co-Founder, LAAUNCH and CEO, TAAF.
"Although this year's Index paints a more sobering picture of the status of Asian Americans than our inaugural survey last year, having an accurate and shared understanding of how Asian Americans are perceived is the only way any of us—advocates, policymakers, business leaders, and everyday Americans—will know what solutions need to be pursued. We clearly have a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure Asian Americans are fully—and finally—embraced in this country, but I am hopeful that the more we all understand the depth and breadth of these issues, the harder we will work to rectify them," Chen said.
LAAUNCH and TAAF are working closely with leading AAPI scholars and research/data organizations, including AAPI Data and Stop AAPI Hate, to raise awareness about the Index's results and pursue actionable programming that tackles bias against Asian Americans. For example, TAAF's areas of focus include improving public education curricula so that AAPI history is better taught in schools, supporting more data and research on AAPI experiences, and promoting positive and diverse AAPI narratives in the media, film, and television—all efforts aimed at addressing the root causes of harmful anti-Asian attitudes.
"In 2022, 58% of Americans can't name a prominent Asian American and respondents most frequently identify Asian women and men in stereotypical roles like Kung Fu masters, criminals, geisha, sex workers and supporting roles. Prejudices continue to be reflected and perpetuated in film and media, which impacts how we view each other every day," said Eric Toda, Board Member, LAAUNCH and Advisory Council Member, TAAF. "However, 71% of Americans—especially our younger generations—want to see greater Asian American representation in TV and movies. While we have seen some progress with leading Asian actors in movies like Shang-Chi, Crazy Rich Asians, Everything Everywhere All at Once and popular series like Pachinko, we need to increase visibility of Asian Americans by considering how we are portraying Asian characters, writing multi-dimensional narratives, and casting Asian Americans into mainstream, leading roles."
LAAUNCH and TAAF plan to release the STAATUS Index survey annually to track changes in American perceptions regarding Asian Americans.
Key findings of the survey are listed below, and the complete STAATUS Index is available at www.staatus-index.org.
- Despite a documented increase in attacks against Asian Americans, nearly one third of Americans are still unaware of the violence.31% of respondents remain unaware of the increased violence towards Asian Americans.
- 71% of Asian American respondents say they are discriminated against in the U.S. today.
- Asian American respondents rank stronger laws and greater protection (#1) and education (#2) as the top solutions to end AAPI-Hate.Non-Asian American respondents rank education (#1) and more interaction with the AAPI community to better understand Asian American experiences (#2) as top solutions.
- Americans are more likely to question the loyalty of Asian Americans and blame them for COVID-19 in 2022 than they were in 2021.One in five (21%) of respondents agree that Asian Americans are at least partly responsible for COVID-19. This is up from 15% in 2021.
- 32% of respondents agree Asian Americans are more loyal to their perceived country of origin than to the U.S., as compared to 20% in 2021.
- Asian Americans are among the least likely to feel like they belong and are accepted in the U.S., especially younger Asian Americans.Only 29% of Asian American respondents (vs. 61% of white respondents and 33% of Black respondents) completely agree that they feel that they belong and are accepted in the U.S., the lowest of all racial groups.Asian American youth and women rate an even lower sense of belonging and acceptance in U.S. society—just 19% of Asian Americans between 18-24 and 66% of Asian American women compared to 75% of Asian American men.
- 72% of Asian Americans who are born outside of the U.S. feel that they belong and are accepted in the U.S., while only 67% of Asian Americans born in the U.S. feel the same.
- Asian Americans still go unseen despite Americans acknowledging their economic and cultural contributions to the U.S.Over 70% of respondents believe that Asian Americans have benefited the U.S.
- However, 58% of Americans are unable to name a prominent Asian American. Up from 42% in 2021. The most prominent Asian named was Jackie Chan, who is not Asian American.
- Majority of Americans cannot name an AAPI historical moment more recent than World War II Internment.
- When asked to identify the roles of Asian Americans in the entertainment industry:10% of respondents said they often see Asian women portrayed as sex workers
- 29% of respondents said they often see Asian American men as kung fu masters and criminals.
- Encouragingly, 71% of respondents said they would like to see more Asian Americans in TV and movies, with younger and very liberal respondents the keenest.
The results of the survey are based on a national survey of 5,113 U.S. residents, age 18 and over, conducted online in February 2022 by Savanta Research. Results are valid within +/-1.4% at 95% confidence level. The sample was weighted using population parameters (race, age, gender, education, and region) from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect the national population.