Pandemic concerns may prime people to discriminate against Asians and Latinos

By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times |

People who are primed to think about the COVID-19 pandemic are more likely to discriminate against Asian and Latino Americans, a new study suggests.

The findings, described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlight yet another way that the pandemic has ramped up discrimination against racial and ethnic minority groups — one that may be as widespread as it is difficult to detect.

“What it shows is that concerns about COVID in general have the potential to hurt any group that is perceived as ‘immigrant’ or ‘foreigner,’” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a political scientist at UC Riverside who was not involved in the work. That could help explain “why we’re seeing concerns and reports of hate incidents in surveys [of] Latinos, Asians and other communities of color,” he said.

It’s no secret that anti-Asian violence has risen across the U.S. since the pandemic began. Inflammatory rhetoric by former President Trump that demonized immigrants and blamed China for the pandemic served to vilify a group of Americans based on their ethnic heritage. And in cities around the U.S., reports of violence directed at Asian Americans soared by 164% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the same period a year prior.


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