HomeAsian AmericansDiscrimination against AAPIs is underreported, report finds

Discrimination against AAPIs is underreported, report finds

by Akemi Tamanaha, Associate Editor

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have risen sharply. Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit that tracks anti-Asian hate incidents, has received information about more than 11,000 incidents since March 2020.

Stop AAPI Hate partnered with NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct a national survey of AAPIs that would give “a more complete picture of the discrimination that impacts” the AAPI community. They published the results in a recent report titled “Righting Wrongs: How Civil Rights Can Protect Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders.”

Although hate crimes, specifically the most violent versions, dominate the mainstream media coverage, they do not constitute a majority of the hate incidents AAPIs say they experience. According to Stop AAPI hate, hate crimes (bias crimes involving physical assault, graffiti, vandalism, theft or robbery) make up less than 25% of the hate incidents reported to Stop AAPI hate.

There is a larger chance, however, that the incidents could qualify as civil rights violations. The NORC survey found that 49 percent of AAPIs experienced discrimination or unfair treatment that could be illegal.

“There’s been several incidents. But the most common and recent was racial slurs screamed at me for bringing Filipino food to work for my break along with sexist comments and name calling ‘wh-re’ & ‘sl-t’ for being a woman along with ‘f-g’ for being a gay woman in my workplace. It’s becoming more frequent and the higher ups are doing nothing about my complaints and rather joining in with
these men,” a woman from Maryland described in the survey.

The survey disaggregated the reports of discrimination by location/environment. It found that 51% said the discrimination occurred while they were a customer at a business. Another 47% say they experienced discrimination in the workplace. Thirty-six percent experienced discrimination at school, 26% while on public transportation, 26% while seeking government services and 23% as a renter and a buyer.

The report found that 31% of AAPIs who experienced discrimination altered their behavior afterward, switching schools, finding new jobs and changing where they shopped.

“It’s really unfortunate because when you are discriminated against you have done nothing wrong. And yet folks feel like they have to change their lives to accommodate how they’re being treated,” Annie Lee, managing director of policy at Chinese for Affirmative Action, said at a news briefing.

Like hate crimes, instances of discrimination against AAPIs often go unreported. The survey found that only one in five AAPIs who experienced discrimination reported it.

“Unfortunately, if you’ve been the victim of a crime or a civil rights violation, the burden is on you to come forward and say something. And it’s by saying something that you set into motion the government processes that exist to hold the wrongdoer accountable,” Lee said.

Of the nearly 80% of people who did not report, 52% said they did not believe it would make a difference and 22% also did not trust the government to take action. Another 36% said they did not know where to go or what to do to make a report.

Taking Actions

So, how can governments and institutions aid AAPIs who have had their civil rights violated?

The survey found that AAPIs wanted a holistic approach to tackling racism and discrimination against the community. They mentioned solutions like education equity, community-based safety solutions, and civil rights legislation. AAPI respondents in the survey also expressed an interest in learning more about their rights and violations against their civil rights.

Based on the results of the survey, Stop AAPI proposed the following four recommendations for Congress:

  • Fund state and local government efforts in partnership with community groups to address discrimination and other hate incidents
  • Codify the language access coordinated at the U.S. Department of Justice
  • Update Title II to include retail stores and other businesses where discrimination occurs
  • Improve civil rights data nationwide

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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