Abstract: Racially Diverse US Young Adults' Experience of COVID-19-Related Anti-Asian Discrimination: Types and Emotional Reactions (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Racially Diverse US Young Adults' Experience of COVID-19-Related Anti-Asian Discrimination: Types and Emotional Reactions

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 3 - Room 432, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Hyeouk Chris Hahm, PhD, Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Casey Xavier Hall, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Northwestern University
Kana Tsurudome Garcia, ., Boston University
Anna Cavallino, ., Boston University
Yoonsook Ha, PhD, MSSW, Associate Professor, Boston University, Boston, MA
Yvette C. Cozier, Dsc, Associate Professor, Boston University
Cindy Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Background and Purpose: Little is known about both Asian and Asian American (A/AA) and non-Asian young adults’ experiences and emotional reactions regarding COVID-19 anti-Asian discrimination. This is the first study to explore the nature and impact of COVID-19 anti-Asian discrimination through a racially diverse sample.

Methods: This study uses open-ended qualitative free-text responses from Wave I of the COVID-19 Adult Resilience Experiences Study (CARES) data collected between March to September 2020. Thematic analysis was used to explore two open-ended questions: “Are there experiences we missed in the survey so far that you wish to describe?” and “What are your thoughts about the current social climate?” The data analysis for this study focused on 113 discrimination or racism-related comments.

Results: A total of 1,331 young adults completed an online survey of which 611 provided comments; a total of 95 racially diverse individuals (65.3% non-Asians) contributed 113 COVID-19 anti-Asian discrimination or racism-related comments. Two overarching themes were: types of discrimination (societal, interpersonal, intrapersonal), and emotional reactions to discrimination (fear, anxiety/distress, hopeless/depression, and avoidance). Not only did both A/AA and non-Asian participants report witnessing or hearing reports of anti-Asian discrimination, but both groups reported experiencing negative emotional reactions to anti-Asian discrimination.

Conclusion: Anti-Asian discrimination in the face of COVID may be more widespread than initial reports indicate. Our finding suggests that anti-Asian discrimination is a societal illness that impacts all populations in the U.S. This calls for cross-racial coalitions and solidarity in the fight against discrimination and racism.