[3/8/21] – Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen 150% in recent months. Attacks on individuals, groups, businesses, and cultural landmarks proliferated in the twilight of the last presidential administration and have carried over into 2021. Reasons for the continued anti-Asian sentiment in the United States are rooted in history. The United States has a long history of stigmatizing people of Asian descent. From casting Asians as provocateurs of opium in the 18th and 19th century to the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to the creation of “the model minority” of obedience and adhering to status quo norms in American culture, Asian Americans have endured hatred and intimidation at the hands of the United States for centuries. Currently, a resurgence of attacks of physical violence and harassment has begun to enter the public eye, although it has long been present. In this week’s Lecture Spark, we explore the issue of anti-Asian hate crimes through the lens of sociology. Specifically, we focus on how scapegoating, social control, and racialization create a fertile breeding ground for hate of anything and anyone perceived to be un-American during periods of social confusion.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Learning Objectives

LO1: Understand how the history of anti-Asian sentiment in the United States acts as a social driver of anti-Asian hate crimes today.

LO2: Discuss the role of rhetoric attributing COVID-19 to “China” in facilitating a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.

LO3: Identify agents of socialization that contribute to the normalization of anti-Asian ideology. 


Activist Amanda Nguyen on recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes: “We are dying to be heard”

Police departments in major cities reported a nearly 150% increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in 2020 compared to the year before, according to an analysis by California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. Amanda Nguyen, CEO and founder of the civil rights nonprofit Rise, joins CBSN’s “Red & Blue” anchor Elaine Quijano to discuss a viral video that she posted to raise awareness about anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. She also calls on the Biden administration to address inadequacies in the teaching of AAPI history in U.S. schools.

Asian Americans face a wave of discrimination during the pandemic

A string of brutal attacks on elderly Asian Americans has brought new attention to the rise of violence and harassment of Asian Americans. Since the pandemic began, more than 3,000 anti-Asian “hate incidents” have been reported in the U.S. according to the group, “Stop AAPI Hate.” Asian American and Pacific Islander activist Helen Zia and Rise founder Amanda Nguyen join Amna Nawaz to discuss.

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Continue to Rise | The Daily Social Distancing Show

Since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans have been on the rise. Ronny Chieng explains how you can help stop this wave of violence.

Discussion Questions

Why are racial/ethnic minorities so frequently scapegoated as responsible for social problems? How does the experience of being othered by society facilitate marginalization in society? What is the purpose of deflecting personal responsibility and placing it on a less powerful group? How can less powerful groups avoid inaccurate negative labels?

What social factors contribute to one’s decision to attack an Asian American on the basis of hate? Where do they adopt such powerful anti-Asian ideologies? Which agent of socialization (e.g., peers, family, education, or media) is most responsible for the cultivation and perpetuation of anti-Asian sentiment? Why?

When does an attack on another human being (or group) become a hate crime? What are the appropriate sanctions for a hate crime? At what point can it be concluded that an individual has been successfully relieved of their racist ideologies? Is it possible for a racist individual to become anti-racist? Why or why not?

Why are hate crimes against Asian Americans on the rise? How does racial discrimination against Asian Americans compare to racial discrimination other racialized and oppressed populations right now? What purpose does hate and condemnation of groups of people serve for society? What groups benefit from this social division? What groups suffer the greatest?

What are possible solutions to the social problem of anti-Asian hate crimes? Where does society need to place the greatest emphasis? What parts of American culture need to change in order to accommodate a more accepting tone toward Asian Americans? What groups have the most power to initiate this process of redefining Asian Americans in American society?


As an agent of socialization, _______ has contributed to the racialization of Asian Americans through the production of movies, television, news, literature, and other forms of information sharing throughout American history.

a. Public Relations
b. Government
c. Media
d. Education

A _______ is legal sanction applied to criminals when they attack an individual or group of individuals for the sole reason of a strong disliking of their identity.

a. Hate Crime
b. Racial Profiling
c. Mass Incarceration
d. Criminalization of Race

From a _______ perspective, hate crimes against Asian Americans can reduce the comfort a victim of a hate crime has participating in activities they enjoyed before their attack.

a. Functionalist
b. Conflict
c. Symbolic-Interaction
d. Rationale Choice

Photo credit: Leonard Ortiz/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

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