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Research Questions

  1. What are the shorter- and longer-term causes of this wave of anti-Asian hate incidents?
  2. How do these events affect AAPI communities?
  3. How do these incidents connect to long-standing racial equity issues?
  4. What mitigation strategies exist, and who should undertake them?
  5. What data and research are needed to inform these mitigation strategies?

Since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Asian Americans have faced a wave of anti-Asian racism and hate incidents. The authors of this report assessed knowledge gaps around such racism and associated acts of violence and proposed possible solutions to address it by conducting 20 semi-structured interviews with diverse stakeholders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to identify key themes about the causes of, reaction to, and mitigation measures against anti-Asian racism in the context of the pandemic and beyond.

The authors found that the recent wave of anti-Asian hate is inspired by public anxiety and fear about the pandemic and negative rhetoric about Asians by prominent politicians. Stakeholders who were interviewed also expressed that the recent incidents are part of a history of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States. Despite the challenges experienced by the community, this recent wave of violence has also galvanized the Asian American community. Solutions that were proposed included improving ways to report hate incidents, increasing public education, and identifying ways to increase the community's sense of safety and unity within and across racial and ethnic groups.

The authors propose three areas for additional research and action that can inform future policy solutions: finding ways to dismantle stereotypes, building AAPI communities' relationships with other groups, and supporting capacity-building in community organizations that serve the AAPI population.

Key Findings

  • Stakeholders posited that public anxiety and fear during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, along with negative rhetoric about Asians by prominent politicians and public officials, triggered the recent wave of anti-Asian hate.
  • Stakeholders described that personally mediated anti-Asian attacks occurred in the context of long-standing systemic racism. They stated that systematic racism and inequities are the persistent undertone for the rise of anti-Asian attacks.
  • Interviewees revealed that although the recent rise of anti-Asian attacks has produced widespread fear and anxiety in the Asian American community, it also galvanized the community to build newfound alliances and resilience.
  • Stakeholders identified several strategies to fight anti-Asian racism, including improving mechanisms to report hate incidents, increasing public education about AAPI history and contributions, strengthening community capacity to provide direct assistance to victims, identifying novel solutions to increase the community's sense of safety and unity within and across racial and ethnic groups, and promoting sustainable changes to address persistent systemic inequities affecting AAPI communities.
  • Interviewees suggested that, to reduce racial inequities and better target services needed by AAPI communities, funding priority should be given to collecting race- and ethnicity-specific data (e.g., on health, economic indicators, education). This collection would take place through partnerships with community organizations, which will ensure cultural and linguistic appropriateness.


  • Explore ways to establish a more accurate image for Asian Americans and dismantle stereotypes.
  • Build AAPI communities' relationships with other groups (e.g., other racial and ethnic groups, government agencies) to increase multiracial unity and to jointly advocate for racial equity.
  • Support capacity-building in community organizations that serve the AAPI population to better assist this diverse group and counter anti-Asian racism at both the individual and systemic levels.

Research conducted by

Funding for this research was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. The research was conducted by the Social and Behavioral Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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