Sept. 17, 2020 | NBC news
A 14-year-old student in Dallas was followed home by a group of high school boys who pretended to cough on him and shouted, "Ching chong! You have Chinese virus!" A 17-year-old was told over social media that their "insides are full of 'f---ing bats" and that they should kill themselves because they are a "dirty f---ing dog eater." An 18-year-old who was grocery shopping was called "chink" and told to go back where they came from.
These are some of the stories revealed in a new youth-led study showing that one-quarter of Asian American young adults have been the targets of racism over the past year. The discrimination they detail primarily takes the form of verbal harassment, shunning and cyberbullying.
The report was released Thursday by the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign, a high school internship program at Stop AAPI Hate, a national center that collects reports of coronavirus discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The study details the emotional toll of growing anti-Asian sentiment around the country. Nearly 8 of 10 respondents expressed anger over the epidemic of hate against Asians.
The findings come from nearly 1,000 interviews of Asian American young adults conducted by a team of 87 Asian American high school students this summer.
"I think we hear this a lot, but the youth are the future," said Cassie Eng, a senior at the Urban School of San Francisco, who worked on the study. "This is a critical time for us to find our sense of self and our identity."
The campaign, which is supported by the Jeremy Lin Foundation, grew out of the San Francisco Bay Area in the spring. During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, students at Eng's school learned about the work Stop AAPI Hate had been doing and wanted to get more involved, so they reached out to the group to find out what they could do.
Through their research, the students found that in addition to the racism they experienced themselves, Asian American youths have also been affected by the growing racism around the country, fueled by President Donald Trump's racist rhetoric, such as calling the coronavirus the "China virus" and "kung flu." Nearly half of those interviewed expressed sadness or depression about the situation, and one-quarter said they were scared for themselves and their families.
"Fear is really damaging to a person's self-esteem and sense of identity," said Rebecca Wu, a junior at Alhambra High School. "The rise in anxiety about you and your family in public can lead to many other concerning mental health issues. It also prevents you from speaking out."
In addition to the youth-led study, Stop AAPI Hate analyzed 341 reports of racism and discrimination against Asian American youths nationally that it received through its reporting tool since March. One pattern that emerged is the complicity of adults, who were present in nearly half of the cases and almost never intervened.