Sixty percent of Asian Americans, who made up about 6 percent of the survey’s respondents, told Ipsos they’ve seen the same behavior.
The poll, released Tuesday, comes as advocacy groups and researchers report an alarming rise in anti-Asian discrimination. Stop AAPI Hate, an effort to track these cases, reported about 1,500 instances of harassment against Asian Americans in a one-month period since mid-March.
“We’re already seeing an increase in physical assaults, refusal of service and vandalism,” said Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, a San Francisco-based civil rights organization helping to run the tracking effort, “despite the fact that 95 percent of Americans are sheltering in place.”
Choi worries about what will happen when shelter-in-place orders are lifted and more people interact on subways, in workplaces and elsewhere. “We are preparing for worst-case scenarios,” she said.
Charissa Cheah, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is researching anti-Asian bias during the pandemic. She said she is not sure that people make a clear distinction between criticism of Chinese leaders and criticism of people with Asian ancestry.
“Many of these implicit assumptions are done without thought,” she said.
The tendency to blame China is particularly notable, she said, because researchers have found that most COVID-19 cases in New York were imported from Europe, not Asia.
Anti-Asian bias amid the virus’ spread plays into a long history of racism in the United States that has associated immigrant groups with disease, Cheah said. But while some immigrant groups, such as those from European countries, were later assimilated into an identity as white Americans, people with Asian ancestry keep finding their status as Americans questioned.
“They fall very quickly from model minority to yellow peril,” she said. “Asian Americans are considered perpetual foreigners. It doesn’t matter how many generations you’ve been here. You’re always asked, ‘Where do you come from?'”
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