Survey confirms discrimination against Asian Americans amid coronavirus pandemic

Asians have borne the brunt of racist reactions.
Asians have borne the brunt of racist reactions.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - About four in 10 black American and Asian American adults surveyed say people have acted uncomfortably around them because of their race or ethnicity since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Only 13 per cent of white adults say this has happened to them.

Asians have borne the brunt of racist reactions; about three in 10 Asian adults (31 per cent) say they have been subject to slurs or jokes because of their race or ethnicity since the outbreak began, compared with 21 per cent of black adults, 15 per cent of Hispanic adults and 8 per cent of white adults.

The findings are not out of line with reports of incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans since the coronavirus outbreak first emerged in China and then spread in the US.

Against a background of intensifying pushback by the US against China, Beijing's actions - or lack of them - in the initial stages of the pandemic have become a domestic political issue in the US, with President Donald Trump blaming China as he campaigns for re-election. The President has even used the term "kung flu" - widely considered derogatory - twice, although the White House has said the term merely underlines the origin of the coronavirus.

Pew Research surveyed 9,654 American adults from June 4-10 for the study on personal experiences with racial and ethnic discrimination since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and opinions about whether racist views toward different groups have become more common.

Everyone who took part is a member of Pew Research's American Trends Panel, an online survey panel recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses.

The survey is weighted to be representative of the United States' adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.

However, as the survey included a total sample size of 278 Asian Americans, and English-speaking Asian Americans only, it may not be representative of the overall Asian American population, Pew Research said.

 
 
 
 

Asian Americans, who account for 6 per cent of the US population, are the fastest growing major racial or ethnic group in the country. Hispanics make up 18 per cent of the population overall, while Black Americans are 12 per cent,

The survey also found that a majority of Asian adults (58 per cent - more than black or Hispanic adults) say it is now more common for people to express racist or racially insensitive views about people who are Asian, than it was before the coronavirus outbreak.

It also found 42 per cent of black Americans and 36 per cent of Asian Americans saying they "worry a great deal or a fair amount that other people might be suspicious of them because of their race or ethnicity if they wear a mask or face covering when in stores or other businesses.

In contrast, 23 per cent of Hispanics and just 5 per cent of white adults say they worry about this.

Black Americans had mixed experiences though, with many experiencing more support in the wake of the May 25 killing of African American George Floyd while he was restrained by a police officer, which ignited nationwide outrage across ethnic groups.