Anti-Asian Hate Crime During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Exploring the Reproduction of Inequality

Am J Crim Justice. 2020;45(4):647-667. doi: 10.1007/s12103-020-09545-1. Epub 2020 Jul 7.


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is believed to have emerged in Wuhan, China in late December 2019 and began rapidly spreading around the globe throughout the spring months of 2020. As COVID-19 proliferated across the United States, Asian Americans reported a surge in racially motivated hate crimes involving physical violence and harassment. Throughout history, pandemic-related health crises have been associated with the stigmatization and "othering" of people of Asian descent. Asian Americans have experienced verbal and physical violence motivated by individual-level racism and xenophobia from the time they arrived in America in the late 1700s up until the present day. At the institutional level, the state has often implicitly reinforced, encouraged, and perpetuated this violence through bigoted rhetoric and exclusionary policies. COVID-19 has enabled the spread of racism and created national insecurity, fear of foreigners, and general xenophobia, which may be related to the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. We examine how these crimes - situated in historically entrenched and intersecting individual-level and institutional-level racism and xenophobia - have operated to "other" Asian Americans and reproduce inequality.

Keywords: Asian; Asian American; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Hate crime; Pandemic.