Even in the midst of AAPI Heritage Month, a new study reveals that 8 in 10 Asian Americans believe they are regularly discriminated against in the United States.
NPR’s Dustin Jones has reported that in a recent survey commissioned by the new nonprofit, Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH), 80% of Asian Americans “don’t feel respected and say they are discriminated against by their fellow Americans.”
The STAATUS Index (Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the United States) was conducted between March 29 and April 14 of this year and included responses from nearly 2,700 men and women across America. The survey also revealed that Asian Americans aren’t alone in feeling attacked by society; 90% of Blacks and 73% of Latinx respondents also felt they regularly faced discrimination in America.
According to the researchers, opinions on how prevalent racism was in the country differed drastically depending on survey respondents’ political affiliation.
“The survey found 55% of respondents that identify as Republican said Asian Americans are either treated fairly or better than others,” Jones reported. “Conversely, 77% of those who identified as Democrats believe Asian Americans are discriminated against.”
Despite significant media coverage on the increase in hate crime attacks against Asian Americans across the U.S. in recent months, many individuals taking the survey also revealed they hadn’t heard anything about the problem. The survey’s authors reported that “37% of white Americans, 30% of Black Americans, 24% of Hispanic Americans and 13% of Asian Americans said they are unaware of an uptick in hate crimes against Asian Americans.”
In an interview discussing the survey, LAAUNCH CEO Norman Chen said, “We thought maybe some people were unaware, but after the Atlanta attacks, everyone should be aware.”
Another highly disturbing fact from the survey: 42% of respondents couldn’t name a single prominent Asian American figure. “None” was the top response to the question, followed by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.
“Most Asian Americans are still in stereotypical roles — waiters, sex workers, kung fu guys — the roles are always one-dimensional and stereotypical,” Chen told NPR. “Our data just really reinforced the opportunity for us to create well-rounded, prominent characters in movies and TV.”
The survey also revealed that nearly 50% of non-Asian Americans believe AAPI are fairly or over-represented in senior positions in companies, politics and media, despite prominent data indicating they are significantly under-represented in all three industries.
While the LAAUNCH survey was the first major survey on American sentiments regarding Asian Americans in more than two decades, Chen said his organization plans to conduct more annual surveys going forward, so any progress being made — or any signs of regression, such as the one we experienced in 2020 — can be documented and studied.
“The trajectory of Asian American sentiment is going in a direction that we don’t want to see,” Chen said. “We want to shape that trajectory in a more favorable direction. We can have more role models of Asian Americans for people to see and emulate.”