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How Anti-Asian Racism Fuels Discrimination & Violence


Originally Posted: March 26, 2021

SMU professor Priscilla Lui studies racial discrimination and intercultural contact. She talks about recent incidents of hate against Asian Americans.

From the recent brutal attacks that killed eight people in Atlanta to the thousands of instances of discrimination in the past year, anti-Asian hate crime is on the rise in the United States.

Priscilla Lui is a professor of psychology at SMU who specializes in racial discrimination.

She talked with KERA’s Justin Martin.

On what’s behind the dramatic rise of anti-Asian violence:

A lot of issues, but probably the most is Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have always had this cultural, negative stereotypes against them in a sense that they have diseases, and there’s inferiority about their cultural practices and behaviors.

So I think that has always been in a backdrop. And when the pandemic came about the public, the media, as well as the last administration’s rhetoric about, I don’t want to repeat those languages, but sort of referring to the, the COVID pandemic and that the virus is tied to an Asian country. I think that’s kind of scapegoating.

And like you mentioned, the rates are probably reported as well because Asian and Americans and Pacific Islanders historically has not only been in the conversation about race and racism, as well as kind of this model minority myth, that in a lot of ways discouraged a lot of people wanting to come out in the open and reporting these issues because of worries of retaliation and not wanting to stick out their neck.

On the racism and violence Asian Americans endure versus other people of color:

A lot of the assumptions with Asian Americans have been they’re perpetual foreigners, and a lot of their practices are inferior or just weird or they’re here to take our jobs.

So those kinds of undertones, those messages are more unique to Asian-Americans. Whereas other racist beliefs and attitudes of prejudice toward other groups might vary because of historical treatments and their history is in the U.S.

For example, with African American individuals, a lot of times they’re seen as troublemakers, they’re seen as criminals or uneducated, similar for Native Americans. So I think that behaviors may not differ, but sometimes maybe the perceptions of Asian Americans versus maybe other ethnic minority groups or people of color in the U.S. can vary. But nevertheless, we just know that racism and discrimination have negative impacts on minority health. READ MORE