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Anti-Asian American Racism, Xenophobia, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 10, 2021

The Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations (OIIR) condemns the alarming rise in racism, violence, and harassment against people of Asian descent, exacerbated this past year by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anti- Asian xenophobia and scapegoating certainly is not new. We can easily trace systemic racism historically from the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, to the forced relocation and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, to the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin by laid-off autoworkers, and nearly 20 years ago to the post-9/11 hate crimes against Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans. Emboldened by racist rhetoric and use of "China virus" or "kung flu" to refer to the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled anti-Asian prejudice and bias:

  • Over 3,795 reported cases of COVID-19 related hate and violence against individuals of Asian descent from March-December 2020 (Stop AAPI Hate)
  • Almost 40% of Americans say it has become more common for people to express racist views toward Asians since the pandemic began (Pew Research Center)
  • More than 30% of Americans have witnessed COVID-19 bias against Asians; 60% of Asian Americans have seen the same behavior (Center for Public Integrity)

The current administration has made efforts to address these acts of violence against Asian Americans through President Biden's Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. But that alone won't be enough. 

Please report all bias-motivated incidents that occur within our university community to the Bias Assessment and Response Team, bart.illinois.edu. To learn more about anti-Asian hate and to report incidents that occur anywhere, visit stopaapihate.org.