Anti-Asian bias incident reports have continued to surge, new research shows

By Kimmy Yam, NBC News |

Reports of anti-Asian incidents experienced a continued rise in recent months, new research shows.

Reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate released national data on anti-Asian bias incidents Thursday, revealing that over the course of roughly 15 months during the pandemic, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders reported more than 9,081 incidents. About one-fourth of those incidents were reported from April to June 2021, the report said.

“It is a combination of both people coming out of a pandemic and interacting more with the public,” Russell Jeung, co-founder of the organization and professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University, told NBC Asian America. “And secondly, people know about [Stop AAPI Hate] more and are reporting more and are wanting the racism to stop.”

According to the report, verbal harassment made up 64 percent of the total incidents reported while shunning, the next-largest share, made up almost 17 percent. Physical assault was the third-largest category, constituting almost 14 percent of all incidents. As seen in previous Stop AAPI Hate reports, these incidents most commonly occurred on public streets, the top site of anti-Asian hate at almost 32 percent. Businesses followed closely behind at just over 30 percent.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data, a policy and research nonprofit group, warned that while the increase in reports may appear significant, the uptick does not necessarily translate to the same percentage increase in actual incidents.

“We need different types of data collection to be able to understand if there are changes, especially increases over time, how much of it is changes due to increased awareness or increased comfort in terms of reporting versus an increase based on other factors like greater exposure to risk based on reopening,” he said.

A previous survey from AAPI Data suggests the stats shown in the new report are just the “tip of the iceberg,” Ramakrishnan explained. The online survey, which included responses from more than 16,000 people of all major races at the end of March, revealed that upward of 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have experienced hate incidents since the pandemic began. And underreporting continues to be an issue.

AAPI Data’s survey showed that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were the least likely to report hate incidents compared to other groups. When asked how comfortable they would be reporting a hate crime to law enforcement authorities, just 30 percent of Asian Americans said they were “very comfortable” doing so. A slightly higher share, 36 percent, of Pacific Islanders responded similarly. In comparison, 54 percent of white respondents reported being comfortable with reporting to law enforcement, by far the highest percentage.