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Survey Reveals 8 Out Of 10 Asian Americans Say They Are Discriminated Against And 77% Do Not Feel Respected In The U.S.

Survey Reveals 8 Out Of 10 Asian Americans Say They Are Discriminated Against And 77% Do Not Feel Respected In The U.S.

LAAUNCH Announces the STAATUS Index, Revealing National Assessment of Attitudes Towards Asian Americans

PR Newswire

SAN FRANCISCO, May 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) today announced the findings of its inaugural STAATUS Index (Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the U.S.), a comprehensive assessment of Americans' attitudes toward Asian Americans, and one of the first such studies in 20 years. The survey reveals 8 out of 10 Asian Americans say they are discriminated against in the U.S. and 77% do not feel respected. The STAATUS Index examines stereotypes and prejudices that have affected Asian Americans for generations.

LAAUNCH surveyed a national sample of 2,766 U.S. residents, aged 18 and over, conducted online between March 29 to April 14, 2021. With this non-partisan survey, the non-profit organization aims to address the root causes of racism and violence towards Asian Americans that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LAAUNCH is working closely with partner organizations including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Gold House, among others, to evaluate the data, raise awareness, garner solidarity across underrepresented communities and develop actionable programming that tackles bias against Asian Americans in the United States.

"I applaud LAAUNCH for their objective, non-partisan report that surveyed attitudes towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. This study adds to the growing body of evidence about how insidious and dangerous anti-Asian American sentiment can be in this country. We've seen a growing number of hate crimes and hate incidents perpetrated against the AAPI community since the beginning of the pandemic. We can have an academic, theoretical discussion about whether systematic racism exists, but the actual data is clear: 8 out of 10 Asian Americans report being discriminated against," said California Congressman Ted Lieu. "Many Americans of Asian descent simply do not feel safe right now. We need to do more to address this issue in government and in society at large. I'm pleased the Senate passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and we will pass it in the House this month. We also need to change the very restrictive standard in the federal hate crime law by passing my bill, the Stop Hate Crimes Act. I look forward to continuing to work with groups like LAAUNCH to combat discrimination and racism against the AAPI community."

"In the first quarter of 2021 alone, hate crimes against the Asian American community have risen nearly 164%. As members of this community, we are outraged to see these senseless acts of violence. We know from history that stereotypes lead to scapegoating and violence during times of crisis, but there has been a lack of national research on stereotypes of Asian Americans over the past two decades. Inspired by the ADL's research, we developed the STAATUS Index in collaboration with academics from University of Massachusetts, Boston; University of California, Los Angeles; and Princeton University to not only understand the root causes of racism and violence towards Asian Americans, but also to help shape American attitudes toward our community moving forward," said Norman Chen, CEO and co-founder of LAAUNCH.

While this is the first year of the report, LAAUNCH plans to release the survey annually to track changes in American perception and to inform new programs to address the underlying causes for racism and under-representation for Asian Americans—specifically calling for:

  • More education on Asian American history and current issues affecting the community
  • Increased Asian American representation in our society, including politics, business and media
  • Greater understanding of how systemic racism impacts all Americans

"As a business with roots in the Asian American community, these findings are not surprising to us," said Dominic Ng, Chairman and CEO of East West Bank, whose Foundation provided a grant to LAAUNCH to conduct the survey. "What's important is that now we have data. That is crucial to create greater awareness, educate stakeholders and inform policymaking moving forward."

The complete STAATUS Index is available at

Key Findings:

  • 8 out of 10 Asian Americans say they are discriminated against in the U.S.
    • 77% of Asian Americans do not feel respected in the U.S. — compared to 86% of Black Americans, 77% of Hispanic/Latino Americans and 31% of white Americans.
    • Despite the increase in news coverage of recent attacks, 37% of white Americans, 46% of Republicans and 22% of Democrats say they aren't aware of the increase in assaults, hate crimes or other forms of racism against Asian Americans over the past year. 
    • 24% of white Americans, 35% of Republicans and 12% of Democrats do not believe that anti-Asian American racism is a problem that should be addressed.
  • Classic stereotypes persist as toxic myths.
    • MODEL MINORITY: Most common adjectives to describe Asian Americans — "smart," "intelligent" and "hard-working" — have remained consistent for over 50 years.
    • PERPETUAL FOREIGNER: 20% of survey respondents say Asian Americans are more loyal to their countries of origin than to the U.S.
    • YELLOW PERIL: 26% of Republicans, 6% of Democrats and 24% of people over the age of 65 believe "China Virus" is an appropriate term for COVID-19.
    • Respondents are most comfortable with an Asian American as a doctor or nurse, friend or co-worker but less comfortable with an Asian American as a boss or president of the United States.
  • Asian Americans remain largely invisible.
    • During a year when Asian Americans were featured in the media (e.g., Kamala Harris, Sanjay Gupta, Tiger Woods, Andrew Yang), many respondents still had difficulty naming a prominent, contemporary Asian American. Top answers in order were "None/I Don't Know," "Jackie Chan" and "Bruce Lee," and the top female was "Lucy Liu."
    • In movies and on TV, respondents see Asian American actors six times more often in supporting or background roles compared to lead roles. Roles remain stereotypical for both male and female actors — e.g., martial arts expert, doctor, gangster, sex worker or maid.


In March 2021, LAAUNCH conducted research with Savanta Research to assess the attitudes and stereotypes towards Asian Americans. The survey was conducted with 2,766 respondents who were U.S. residents aged 18 and over. Results are valid within +/-1.9% at 95% confidence level. The sample was weighted using population parameters (race, age, gender, education and region) from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect the national population. The survey consisted of 39 questions conducted online.

About the STAATUS Index

The STAATUS Index — short for "Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the U.S." — is a comprehensive, national assessment of attitudes and stereotypes towards Asian Americans. The index is one of the few such studies on this topic in the last 20 years. With plans to be conducted annually, the survey tracks trends in how American sentiment is changing as a result of both long-term stereotypes and current events.


Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) was founded with a mission to engage and empower Asian Americans to fight racism, increase representation and share resources within its community. Its vision is to create a society in which Asian Americans are treated fairly without racism, prejudice or discrimination; fully represented in politics, business, legal, media/entertainment, sports, arts and other communities; and recognized for their culture, history and contributions to society.

Media Contact:

Suzzette Martínez-Malavet (she/her/hers)  


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