About 3 weeks ago, a man went on a rampage and killed eight people at three spas in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent. The attack was a glaring example of increased violence and racism against Asian people in the US since the beginning of the pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate is a nonprofit organization devoted to tracking and responding to discrimination against Asian people. Since early 2020, its reporting center has been tracking hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US.
Of the 3,795 reports of hate incidents that Stop AAPI Hate received between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021, 11.1% involved physical violence. Another 20.5% involved shunning, and 68.1% involved verbal harassment. People of Chinese heritage were the targets of 42.2% of the hate incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate, followed by people of the following ethnicities: Koreans, at 14.8%; Vietnamese, at 8.5%; and Filipinos, at 7.9%.
Incidents received by the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021
Source: Stop AAPI Hate National Report 2021
C&EN stands in solidarity with the Asian community and condemns these acts of violence and discrimination. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and respect are core values of the American Chemical Society, and we want to offer our support to our Asian colleagues, members, and readers.
Asian scientists are well represented in the chemical sciences in the US. According to data from the Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity, in 2017–18, Asians accounted for 16.1% of chemistry professors at the top 50 universities—those the National Science Foundation identified as having the highest chemistry research expenditures. Asians made up 10.3% of chemistry PhD recipients from those schools in 2018, according to the NSF. Both percentages are high compared with the percentage of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the total US population, which was 6.1% in 2018, according to US Census Bureau data.
Despite these levels of representation, Asian scientists continue to face discrimination. Members of the C&EN team recently talked with representatives of the Asian chemistry community to inform a feature for an issue in May. The story will focus on how the China Initiative, a program by the Department of Justice; visa restrictions; and broader attacks on Asians in the US are affecting Asian scientists and decisions they’re making about their careers.
The themes that emerged in that meeting are consistent with the hostile environment that Asians in the US face. The participants told us they feel increasingly under suspicion even after, in some cases, living in the US for 20 years. They also confirmed that, in a reversal of past trends, they are seeing greater numbers of Chinese students looking to return to China after their studies instead of considering staying in the US.
If you would like to share your experiences with us to help inform our reporting and an upcoming webinar, please contact C&EN senior editor Andrea Widener at firstname.lastname@example.org.