Anti-Asian hatred has been present in the United States’ blood since the nation’s foundation and has increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is appropriate to question whether we assumed a proper stance in responding to anti-Asian xenophobia, racism, and discrimination. Is it fair to assert that the model minority fable acts to undermine our understanding of the mistreatment perpetrated against persons of Asian descent? This misconception has created a considerable gap between the Asian-American community and other American community members. A comprehensive understanding of the diversity in identity and experience of Asians can work significantly in demystifying misconceptions that associate Asians with the coronavirus.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted increased episodes of discrimination, racism, and hate crimes against people of “Asians decent,” predominantly in the U.S., with hate crime cases increasing to 150% (The Williams Record). Since the virus emerged, many Asian American ethnic individuals have reported exposure to racial slurs, extreme physical distancing, being spat on, physical violence, and even wrongful workplace termination, etc., as influential government officials and the media increasingly blame and stigmatize Asians for the Covid-19 spread. The association with digital media is more evident as anti-Asian sentiments increase, with issues of anti-Asian sentiments spreading extensively and Asian-Americans attempting to fight hate via social media.
This misconception is dangerous to Asian Americans and highlights only a feeble illustration of the Asian American story. It disregards the various diverse identities and experiences of the Asian decent group. To attain a comprehensive understanding of the group and demystify the stereotypes that have long contributed to our misconceptions. Such as those represented about Asians in blockbuster films like Bling Empire or reality Television shows like Crazy Rich Asians, we have to rely on what research tells us about the group. Failure to undertake this would imply that our understanding will always neglect to represent the experiences and identities of all Asian descent individuals in the United States. Including those who come from different areas of Asia, those living in poverty, those of other religious affiliations, and those who live in poverty not highly educated.
There is a belief that all Asians originate from the same country (China). Reports indicating that the coronavirus started in China have led many Asian Americans, including those not Chinese, to be discriminated against. However, it is crucial to note that Asian Americans have different roots spanning many countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Far East Asia. Each sub-group with a particular country has distinct political values, social values, economic and demographic attributes, religious beliefs, language, culture, history, and pathway into America. A Pew Research Centre study that was premeditated to encompass a nationwide illustrative sample model of each of the six main Asian-American groups according to origin country. Including Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Indian Americans, Filipino Americans, and Chinese Americans show that these groups reflect at least 84% of the total Asian inhabitants in the U. S (Pew Research Center). The rudimentary demographics of the stated groups are dissimilar in many measures. For instance, the Indian American group leads all the other clusters by a weighty margin in the level of education and income.
There is also a belief that all Asians have the same religion (emerging from China). The myth that all Asians have the same religion is also a base that intensifies discrimination and hatred since an individual can group and stereotype all Asian-Americans regarding a particular culture. However, the religious association of these groups represents a significant variation. Therefore, it is inappropriate to assume that all Asians have the same religion – associated with the country where the coronavirus was first discovered. According to Pew Research Center (2012) survey, approximately half of the Chinese cluster considers themselves as unaffiliated to any religion. Most Vietnamese are Buddhist, most Koreans are Protestants, nearly half of all Indians are affiliated with Hindu, and most Filipinos are Catholics. No religion is dominant among Japanese Americans: 26% are Buddhist, 33% are unaffiliated, and 38% are Christian (Pew Research Center). In General, 26% of Asian American groups consider themselves unaffiliated, 1% are Sikh, and 4% are Muslim. Besides, 10% are Hindu, 14% are Buddhist, 19% are Catholic, and 22% are Protestant (9% are Protestant mainline; 13% are evangelical) (Pew Research Center). Overally, 40% of Asian Americans consider religion an essential aspect of their lives compared to 59% of the United States general public (Pew Research Center).
In conclusion, demystifying these misconceptions helps eliminate the dangerously misguided understanding that disregards the various diverse identities and experiences of the Asian decent group. It is imperative to recognize that anti-Asian antics in the United States has been a critical issue associated with these misconceptions, as is demonstrated by the Japanese Internment Camps and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 established during the time of Franklin Roosevelt. Many examples have come up, especially during the coronavirus pandemic period. It has outlined a severe social justice subject, particularly with more major news outlets and social media starting to identify Asian American hate crimes as real stories.
McMurtry, Caitlin L., et al. “Discrimination in the United States: Experiences of Asian Americans.” Health Services Research 54 (2019): 1419-1430.
Pew Research Center. “The Rise of Asian Americans.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 30 May 2020, www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2012/06/19/the-rise-of-asian-americans/.
The Williams Record. “Editorial: The college needs to support Asian Americans — and commit to Asian American studies.” The Williams Record, 31 Mar. 2021, williamsrecord.com/456494/opinions/the-college-needs-to-support-asian-americans-and-commit-to-asian-american-studies/.