Viral images show people of color as anti-Asian perpetrators. That misses the big picture.

A new analysis reveals misconceptions about perpetrators, victims, and the general environment around anti-Asian hate incidents. These can have 'long-term consequences for racial solidarity,' researcher Janelle Wong said.

6/15/2021 11:54:00 PM

A new analysis reveals misconceptions about perpetrators, victims, and the general environment around anti-Asian hate incidents. These can have 'long-term consequences for racial solidarity,' researcher Janelle Wong said. - NBCAsianAmerica

A new analysis reveals misconceptions about perpetrators, victims, and the general environment around anti-Asian hate incidents. These can have 'long-term consequences for racial solidarity,' researcher Janelle Wong said.

Activists participate in a vigil in response to the Atlanta spa shootings March 17, 2021 in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC.Alex Wong / Getty ImagesJune 15, 2021, 6:47 PM UTCByWhile news reports and social media have perpetuated the idea that anti-Asian violence is committed mostly by people of color, a new analysis shows the majority of attackers are white.

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Janelle Wong, a professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, releasedanalysislast week that drew on previously published studies on anti-Asian bias. She found official crime statistics and other studies revealed more than three-quarters of offenders of anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, from both before and during the pandemic, have been white, contrary to many of the images circulating online.

Wong told NBC Asian America that such dangerous misconceptions about who perpetrates anti-Asian hate incidents can have"long-term consequences for racial solidarity.""The way that the media is covering and the way that people are understanding anti-Asian hate at this moment, in some ways, draws attention to these long-standing anti-Asian biases in U.S. society," Wong said."But the racist kind of tropes that come along with it — especially that it's predominantly Black people attacking Asian Americans who are elderly — there's not really an empirical basis in that."

Wong examined nine sources and four types of data about anti-Asian hate incidents, including from the reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate, Pew Research, as well as official law enforcement statistics, the majority of them spanning the year and a half when the #StopAAPIHate hashtag was trending. She found major contradictions in the prevailing narrative around perpetrators, victims, and the general environment of racism toward Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. She said such misleading conclusions could be attributed to the lack of context around images, the failure to amplify all aspects of the data or misinterpretations of the research.

A misread of a frequently cited study from this year, published in theAmerican Journal of Criminal Justice, likely contributed to the spread of erroneous narratives, Wong said. The study, which examined hate crime data from 1992 to 2014, found that compared to anti-Black and anti-Latino hate crimes, a higher proportion of perpetrators of anti-Asian hate crimes were people of color. Still, 75 percent of perpetrators were white.

Other studies confirm the findings, Wong wrote. She pointed to separate research from the University of Michigan Virulent Hate Project, which examined media reports about anti-Asian incidents last year and found that upward of 75 percentof news stories identified perpetrators as male and white in instances of physical or verbal assault and harassment when the race of the perpetrator was confirmed. Wong said the numbers could even be an underestimate.

"This is really how crime is framed in the United States — it's framed as the source is Black," Wong said.Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data, a data and civic engagement nonprofit group, for which Wong also works, said that the public's perception of perpetrators and victims is largely formed by the images that have been widely circulated — but that they aren't representative of most anti-Asian bias incidents. For example, the videos that have gone viral are more likely to be from low-income, urban areas where there is more surveillance, he said.

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"You have security camera videos that are more available and prevalent in certain types of urban settings. And so that's what's available to people in terms of sharing," Ramakrishnan said."The videos are more viral than if it's something that doesn't have any imagery or video connected to it, like something that's happening in the suburbs, for example."

When they are circulated, they play on a loop with no audio. Even though the videos alone don't provide much detail about what's happening, they dominate our perceptions, Ramakrishnan said."There's just something so powerful about these visual images so that no matter what the social science might say, people believe their eyes and especially the images that get played on repeat now," he said.

Ramakrishnan said anti-Blackness among Asian Americans and the diaspora could also affect how such images are disseminated. Often, videos that confirm prejudices are shared not only on U.S. social networks but also on international messaging apps."These kinds of images and narratives of racial tension — Black violence on Asian people — are getting shared in Asia, as well. There is a transnational component to it," he said."Whatever aspect of anti-Black racism or racial prejudice that some Asian Americans might have will also matter, in terms of what ends up being more prominent, because these go to social networks, especially through social networks apps, as well."

Wong said many erroneous assumptions persist about the identities of victims and the types of hate incidents they have confronted. She said there's a widely held belief that such incidents are generally violent, when studies show that most of the racism Asian Americans have faced because of the pandemic is verbal harassment or shunning. Wong said that although older Asian women are typically thought of as the victims of such crimes, research shows that about 7 percent of reported incidents have involved anyone over 60.

Wong said that while any hate crime or incident is unacceptable, the astronomical increases often reported in headlines don't capture the full picture of anti-Asian hate. The baseline for anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents has been relatively low, meaning a small growth in the total number of hate incidents can lead to large percentage increases. For example, data indicate that the largest increase occurred in New York City, which jumped from three to 28 anti-Asian hate crimes from 2019 to 2020, about an 833 percent surge. Meanwhile, Sacramento, California, increased from one to eight anti-Asian crimes from 2019 to 2020 — a small jump in raw numbers that equates to an increase of 700 percent.

"Even in jurisdictions reporting the most dramatic year-over-year increases in hate crimes, like New York City, the rate was lower than the proportion of Asian Americans in the population," Wong said.Asian Americans aren't the only racial group that has met challenges during the pandemic. Wong said official law enforcement statistics show that in the 26 largest jurisdictions, which include areas like New York City, anti-Asian hate crimes accounted for 6.3 percent of all reported hate crimes.

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Black Americans have long faced higher rates of hate crimes. Even though official 2019 law enforcement data show a drop in anti-Black hate crime reports, Black people were still, by far, the most targeted racial group, Wong said. That year, 58 percent of reported hate crimes were motivated by anti-Black bias, while a far smaller proportion, 4 percent, were motivated by anti-Asian bias. About 14 percent were motivated by anti-Latino bias.

Last year, when Asian Americans dealt with coronavirus-specific stereotypes, 27 percent of Asian Americans reported having ever experienced hate crimes or incidents, while 34 percent of Black Americans did, according to an AAPI Data survey.May 27, 2021

04:12"People overestimate the degree to which they, individually, are likely to be the victim of the crime. And so what we're seeing right now, because there's so much media coverage — even though we see that Asian Americans account for, no matter how you cut it, a minority of the hate crimes in any place — they feel like they're the most likely to be attacked," she said.

That isn't to say that increases haven't occurred or that verbal harassment and such incidents aren't of concern, Wong said. There has been a marked increase in discrimination toward Asian Americans that deserves attention. But selectively amplifying aspects of the issue or omitting context can further perpetuate dangerous stereotypes and break opportunities for solidarity among marginalized groups, she said. Ramakrishnan said that when people reach for policy solutions based on insufficient information, they may not solve the issue.

Ramakrishnan called on the media and other institutions not only to add more context to information, but also to draw responsible conclusions from the data. He also emphasized that while the media are hyperfocused on anti-Asian crimes, Asian American and Pacific Islanders deal with a vast range of issues, including language barriers and immigration struggles, which aren't captured in coverage of pandemic racism.

Read more: NBC News »

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you meant black people? Bullshit Was no one reading the eyewitness reports and looking at the pictures of the perps? So your saying all the pictures and videos from news reports and social media are wrong 🤔. All those people aren’t people of color in the pictures and videos ? They’ve somehow been doctored 🙄

Balcony Ahahahahahahaha!!!! Gaslighting a$$holes. White lady here who never got that impression. WTF All this is validating is society as a whole has a violence problem against Asian people. POC attackers don't suddenly stop existing because a majority might be white. This just means everyone is a problem and further validates this needs to be dealt with.

You guys are tweeting this almost every hour. I wouldn't be surprised if it's been for days Um. 'A higher proportion of perpetrators of anti-Asian hate crimes were people of color. Still, 75% of perpetrators were white.' Because white people make up the majority of the population. POC still disproportionately attack AAPI people.

Anyone around there good with math? Check the fbi UCR stats. Based on percentage of population, these crimes are mostly committed by people of color. Accurate statistics matter.

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LOL. Yeah. Sure. 😂 Um...we already knew this. Thanks, though? A better headline for this would be; “we stoke racial divisions. Get your news here!” how many times a day will this false analysis be reported? You “analyze” the data. I will analyze every attack caught on video. WhiteSupremacistsAreDestroyingAmerica😡

What anti Asian violence? Have not seen it! Is this a suggestion or a wish list? Our country is not racist! WTH! Black males are 6% of the population but make up 95% of all ASIAN ATTACKS! The Black community has brought this SHAME on themselves. Blacks voted 90% democrat!

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No sh%t. Really? I've only seen footage of attacks by white people? That’s the fault of the news media. While these attacks are despicable no matter who commits them, media more often than not paints a picture contrary to the truth. Is it possible to just report on what's actually happening? Why does it matter? NBC is race baiting for clicks

...ya don't say...!😒 I had not noticed what color they were You people just can’t stop lying!!! Funny Shocked!!! 🤦‍♀️

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The entire source of this article is fake news. They have no real crime data recently or the past year. Instead, they use a 1992-2014 study, the 2019 crime statistics, and personal surveys to deduce this conclusion... One of the stories of the survey said they got dirty looks... Um. Duh. Fake news! Show the video proof.

Classic foul play She's basing her mercenary, attention-seeking conclusions on 1992 - 2014 data, among other major problems. look at you at NBC trying to blame all racism on one race. Even while acknowledging that what we see over and over on video and in the streets is the exact opposite. Racism and racists come in all colors. YOU are promoting racism right now. YOU are promoting hate. NBCisracist

Why That's a lie The comments are like kids pointing fingers at each other. You have literally become an embarrassment

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StopAsianHate So we should ignore every single surveillance video that shows us otherwise!!! Nobody hates like a loser 😼 Where is the data for 2015-present? American’s human right lol the author reported on hate crimes against everyone EXCEPT...White people. also they use the term 'latinx' thats not a real thing.

NBC don't do biased reporting. White are criminals as well. The Real OG's Mission: The Real OG's will create a space for impoverished youth to seek refuge from otherwise challenging daily life. The Real OG’s will be a place for youth to develop new habits, learn new skills and create opportunities for successful advancement..

Not shocked. I'll believe my eyes, not this story with statistics from years ago. Do 2020 and 2021.

Man charged with hate crime after verbal, physical assault on family of Asian descentA man has been charged with a hate crime after verbally abusing and physically assaulting a family of Asian descent while on vacation in Florida. These People Are The Greatest Problem! They Live To Hate / Train To Kill.😷😷😷 Can we find/identify this woman? NBCNews CBSNews CNN BBCBreaking PBS NoToRacism FirstThemNEWS SHARE HIDDEN NEWS!!

Black people already knew Come on NBC ffs stop the bullsh$ Once again NBC spreads hate and confusion, boycott NBC In San Francisco our community is being attacked on a daily basis. With each attack we are told it's not a hate crime because we were robbed or the suspect was mentally ill. Shoes on the other foot you can't handle it, lol y'all funny 🤣

Oh now the shoes are on the other foot they can't take it. Lol y'all funny Makes me feel so much better knowing that I am an equal hate object. If Who Ever Is Pulling The Strings On This Mess Don't Stop. The Black Community Are Just Going To Walk Away From The Asian Community In America. After 200+ Years. And, Just Act As If They Don't Exist. Then We'll See Where All The Hate Crimes Come From. It's Sad? But Must Be Done.

NBC you are lying and playing with our Asian lives like a toy. Welcome to the world of NBC doublethink.

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Where is the “new analysis”? So she looked at news articles where the ethnicity of the offender is listed. Not helpful as most stories about blacks attacking Asians don’t state the attacker was Black. Advertising in advertising. You don't have to ask your doctor as in advertising. So why you don't report them?

Breaking news NBCAsianAmerica Same yesterday.. Same Today NBCAsianAmerica Discrimination against Asian Americans is so prevalent you can see it on the streets, schools, playgrounds, colleges, Harvard, federal jobs, law enforcement, sports. Everywhere Asian (including Indian) Americans get discriminated, even by the black community. Need to CHANGE now.

NBCAsianAmerica As a latino my opinion is that blacks are more racists than whites. NBCAsianAmerica So “don’t point out that it’s not just white folks attacking Asians because that wouldn’t serve us very well.” Got it. This type of stuff is why 2022 will go to the Republicans.