COVID-19 Research Series
RACISM & RESILIENCE
The origination of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China has led to growing xenophobia in the United States, with many Americans blaming China, and Asians more generally, for “allowing” the coronavirus to escape into a worldwide pandemic. This study explores Americans’ perceptions of pandemic-related racism, and their resilience strategies in response to these perceptions. Using a nationally representative survey (n = 1,767) that oversampled Asian Americans, we found that Asian and non-Asian Americans were no different in terms of their self-reported quality of life; however, Asians did experience more negative emotions and were acutely more aware of pandemic-related racial harassment. These perceptions fueled a mediation effect: Compared to non-Asians, Asians who perceived the threat of online pandemic-related harassment were more likely to enact resilience responses, which were in turn associated with increased psychological wellbeing.
ETHNIC IDENTITY & ONLINE RACIAL HATE SPEECH
Although several studies have documented the recent increase in anti-Asian hate speech on social media during the pandemic, we know comparatively less about how Asian Americans themselves see this problem. One important factor expected to affect how Asian Americans perceive and respond to rising online racial hate speech is their ethnic identity. As the "frame" through which many minorities learn to identify themselves, ethnic identity can strongly influence how people interpret their larger social world and their place within it.
We surveyed 269 Asian Americans on five dimensions of ethnic identity and found key differences: First, Asian Americans differed on the extent to which they considered their ethnicity to be a central component of their self-concept. They also differed in evaluations of their ethnic ingroups, with some reporting more positive (pride, acceptance) and others more negative (inferiority, shame) attitudes.
Our findings revealed that those who felt a stronger sense of ethnic self-concept and who held more positive attitudes toward Asian American ingroups reported (a) increased awareness of COVID-19-related online racial hate speech and (b) stronger self-reported enactment of resilience communication during the pandemic.