As we honor the victims, we ask: how much has anti-Asian hate changed?

BY JENNIFER LEE AND KARTHICK RAMAKRISHNAN

One year ago, a mass shooting in Atlanta catapulted anti-Asian violence and hate onto a national platform when a 21-year-old white man murdered eight people—including six Asian women—in three Asian-owned massage parlors. Working low-wage jobs that required not only their physical presence but also their physical touch during a global pandemic, these women’s lives laid bare the vulnerabilities at the intersection of race, gender, class, nativity, and citizenship. Their lives may seem distant and remote from ours, but as Asian Americans, as immigrants, and as people of color, we recognize that our fates are connected to theirs.

On the one-year anniversary of the massacre in Atlanta, we ask how much has changed over the course of a year? Based on the 2022 American Experiences with Discrimination Survey–an on-line survey conducted by Momentive between March 2 and March 9, 2022–we find an increase in that anti-Asian hate crimes and hate incidents in 2021 from 2020 that have not abated in the first three months of 2022.[i]

Missing from the narrative, however, is the victimization of Asian American men, who are just as likely to experience anti-Asian hate as women. While Asian American men are as likely to experience hate incidents, Asian American women are more likely to perceive an increase in hate crimes, and are more likely to be concerned about how anti-Asian hate will affect their communities. Asian American parents express an added concern: the fear that their children are being bullied. Given their experiences with xenophobia and racism, perhaps it should come as little surprise that the majority of Asian Americans consider themselves people of color.

1 in 6 Asian American Adults Experienced a Hate Crime or Hate Incident in 2021, an Increase from 1 in 8 in 2020

In 2021, 1 in 6 Asian American adults experienced a hate crime or hate incident compared to 1 in 8 in 2020, based on answers to the same survey last year. In the first three months of 2022 alone, the figure is already more than 1 in 12, at 8 percent, and these numbers are likely to increase in the rest of this year with the full reopening of American society.

FIGURE 1: History of experiences with Hate Crimes and Hate Incidents among Asian Americans

This chart depicts Asian American experiences with hate crimes/incidents over the years. 29% report ever experiencing an incident, 12.5% report experiencing an incident in 2020, 15% report experiencing an incident in 2021, and 8% report experiencing an incident in 2022 (as of March)

Asian American Men are as Likely as Asian American Women to be Victims of Anti-Asian Hate 

The mass murder in Atlanta and the recent brutal murders of Asian American women in New York, including Michelle Alyssa Go, Christina Yuna Lee, and GuiYing Ma, have spawned a narrative that Asian American women are more likely to be victims of anti-Asian violence and hate. This narrative has been adopted by Asian American leaders, advanced by Asian American community organizations, shared by the media, and drives policy proposals.

The narrative that Asian American women are more likely to be victims of anti-Asian violence and hate is at odds with the findings from the 2022 American Experiences with Discrimination Survey. Nationally representative survey data show that Asian American men have been just as likely to experience hate crimes and hate incidents during the pandemic as Asian American women.

One in 10 Asian American men and women have been coughed on or spit on, 1 in 4 have been mocked or have been the target of offensive physical gestures, and more than 1 in 4 have been told to “go back to your country,” with Asian American men slightly more likely to have experienced this racist and xenophobic taunt than Asian American women (31% vs. 29%). Because these more common experiences with anti-Asian racism do not make news headlines, the perception remains that Asian American women are the disproportionate victims of anti-Asian hate. While two-thirds of hate incidents reported by women on community websites like Stop AAPI Hate, national survey data indicate that Asian American men  are less likely to report such incidents to community reporting sites, and are often missing from narratives of anti-Asian violence and hate.

TABLE 1: Everyday acts of discrimination among Asian Americans by Gender
Men Women
People asking where you are from 54% 63%
People acting as if you don’t speak English 37% 44%
Poor service 25% 35%
Being called names or insulted 33% 34%
Offensive physical gestures 29% 31%
Being told to go back to your country 31% 29%
People acting as if they were afraid of you 19% 17%
Being spit or coughed on 11% 11%
Property being defaced with graffiti or vandalism 9% 8%

 

Gender Differences Emerge in Community Concern, Perceptions, and Institutional Trust

While a large majority (83%) of Asian American adults are concerned about a future increase in hate crimes against their community, Asian American women (85%) are more likely to worry than men (80%). Asian American women are also more likely to perceive that anti-Asian hate crimes have increased compared to men (56% vs. 42%). And critically, Asian American women express less institutional trust in the criminal justice system: they are significantly less comfortable reporting a crime to law enforcement than are Asian American men; they are less likely to believe that justice will be served if they report a crime; and they more likely to believe that they will be attacked again if they do report a crime.

Hence, while Asian American men and women are equally likely to experience a hate crime or hate incident, Asian American women are more likely to worry, more likely to perceive an increase in hate crimes, and also more likely to believe they will be attacked again if they report a hate crime.

FIGURE 2: Community Concern, Perceptions, and Institutional Trust in Asian Americans by Gender

This chart depicts community concern, perceptions, and institutional trust by gender for Asian Americans. Concerned about future increase in hate crimes against community (85% for women, 80% for men). Comfortable reporting hate crimes to law enforcement (65% for women, 74% for men). Concerned that reporting will increase chances of being attacked again (66% for women, 56% for men). Believe justice will be served by reporting (54% for women, 62% for men). Agree that anti-Asian hate crimes have increased (56% for women, 42% for men)

Asian American Parents are Very Concerned about their Children Being Bullied

Asian American parents are very concerned about the safety of their children. Nearly all Asian American parents (83%) express concern that their children may be bullied because of their race or ethnicity. Indeed, Asian American parents were the most concerned of all parents. More than 4 in 5 Asian American parents were concerned about their children being bullied, compared to 3 in 4 Black parents, 2 in 3 Hispanic parents, and 2 in 5 White parents.

FIGURE 3: Parental Concern that their Children May Experience Bullying by Race

This chart depicts parental concern that their children may experience bullying by race. Asian American: 84%, Black: 73%, Native Hawaiian or Pacific islander: 69%, Hispanic/Latinx: 65%, Native or American Indian: 57%, Multiracial: 52%, Other: 41%, White: 39%

The Majority of Asian Americans Consider Themselves a Person of Color

For the first time in a nationally representative survey, Asian Americans were asked whether they consider themselves a person of color. Nearly two-thirds of Asian Americans (63%) consider themselves people of color, with little variation by gender and ethnicity. For example, 64% of Asian American women consider themselves people of color compared to 61% of Asian American men. Among South Asians, 65% consider themselves as people of color compared to 63% of East Asians and Southeast Asians. Interestingly, while U.S.-born men are slightly less likely than foreign-born men to consider themselves people of color (59% vs. 62%), U.S.-born women are significantly more likely to perceive themselves as people of color than foreign-born women (73% vs. 62%).

Despite these differences, our findings underscore that in spite of high median levels of education, income, and home ownership, two-thirds of Asian Americans consider themselves people of color. Hence, contrary to some who believe that Asian Americans consider themselves white, honorary white, or white adjacent, the majority Asian Americans identify as people of color.

TABLE 2: Consider Yourself a Person of Color – Asian Americans by Gender, Ethnicity, Nativity
Overall 63%
Men 61%
Women 65%
Overall U.S.-Born 67%
U.S.-Born Men 59%
U.S.-Born Women 73%
Overall Foreign-Born 62%
Foreign-Born Men 62%
Foreign-Born Women 62%
South Asian 65%
East Asian 63%
Southeast Asian 63%

 

FIVE TAKE-AWAYS

In the weeks ahead, the AAPI Data team will publish from the 2022 American Experiences with Discrimination Survey, including a look at Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders as well as comparing discrimination within the broader racial landscape.

As we honor the victims of the mass murder in Atlanta, we ask how much has changed? Our data show that a year later, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. We leave you with five sobering take-aways.

  1. Anti-Asian hate incidents remain high: 1 in 6 Asian American adults experienced a hate crime or hate incident in 2021, and more than 1 in 12 in the first three months of 2022.
  2. Asian American men are just as likely as Asian American women to have experienced a hate incident. Asian American men are missing from the narrative of anti-Asian hate.
  3. Asian American women are more concerned about hate incidents against their community, more likely to perceive an increase in hate incidents, and less comfortable reporting hate crimes to US authorities than Asian American men.
  4. Asian American parents express the most concern of all parents about their children being bullied.
  5. The majority of Asian Americans consider themselves people of color.

[i] APPENDIX AND NOTES ON METHODOLOGY

The 2022 American Experiences with Discrimination Survey was conducted online by Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey) was conducted online March 2-9, 2022 among a total sample of 16,901 adults ages 18 and over, including 1,991 Asian or Asian Americans and 186 Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders living in the United States. Respondents for these surveys were selected from more than two million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.  SurveyMonkey used a third-party panel provider to obtain additional sample with quotas for Asian or Asian American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander respondents. 

 

The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 1.0 percentage points and for the following subgroups: Asians+/- 3.0 percentage points, Blacks +/- 3.0 percentage points, Hispanics +/- 3.5 percentage points, Whites +/- 1.5 percentage points, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders +/- 8.0 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, citizenship status, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. An additional smoothing parameter for political party identification based on aggregates of SurveyMonkey research surveys is included.

 

On the question of hate crimes and hate incidents, all survey respondents were asked “Have you ever been a victim of a hate crime? That is, have you ever had someone verbally or physically abuse you, or damage your property specifically because of your race or ethnicity?” If they answered “Yes,” then they were asked three additional questions on whether they experienced hate crimes or hate incidents “before the coronavirus pandemic in 2020,” “last year, in 2021,” and “this year, in 2022.”

 

Respondents for these surveys were selected from more than two million people who take surveys on the Momentive platform each day.  Momentive used a third-party panel provider to obtain additional sample with quotas for Asian or Asian American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander respondents. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 1.5 and for the following subgroups: Asian American or Pacific Islander +/-  3.5 percentage points. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, citizenship status, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over. An additional smoothing parameter for political party identification based on aggregates of Momentive research surveys is included.

 

The survey was conducted in English-only.  This limitation biases the sample toward Asian Americans who are U.S. born and English-dominant. Importantly, the majority of Asian Americans in the survey reported speaking a language other than English in their homes. Further, past studies, including the 2016 National Asian American Survey, show that U.S. born Asian Americans are more, not less, likely than their foreign-born counterparts to report experiences with discrimination in a survey context. As such, we can be fairly confident that the results above do not underrepresent reported experiences with discrimination.