Columbia University (United States)


As fears and insecurities about the coronavirus mount among Americans, so too have attacks on Asian Americans. They have been stabbed, beaten, bullied, spit on, pushed, harassed, and vilified based on the false assumption that they are to blame for the spread of Covid-19. Faulting China for the origin and spread of the coronavirus, the current US president flagrantly dubbed it as the “Chinese virus,” and then turned a blind eye to the rise in coronavirus-related hate incidences against Asian Americans. In the absence of government intervention, Asian American civil rights groups created a website where victims can report such hate incidences. Within the first 24 hours of the website’s launch in March, more than 40 incidents were reported. Two months later, the number exceeded 1,800. While self-reports are timely, the nature of data collection prevents us from assessing the extent to which the US Asian population has experienced hate incidences, which Asian groups are most vulnerable, and how Asian Americans are responding. With AAPI Data, I am designing the 2020 Asian American Survey to capture the prevalence of anti-Asian hate, disaggregated by ethnic group. The survey also includes questions to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Asian Americans’ self-reported physical, mental, and economic health. We also ask questions about attitudes toward affirmative action, political party preferences, and presidential vote choice, and assess how these have changed in four years, using the 2016 National Asian American Survey as the baseline.

Principal Investigator

Jennifer Lee

Professor, Sociology, Columbia University

Jennifer Lee is the Julian Clarence Levi Professor of Social Sciences at Columbia University and president of the Eastern Sociological Society. A pioneering scholar of immigration, race/ethnicity, culture, and social inequality, she is author of four-award winning books, including The Asian American Achievement Paradox, The Diversity Paradox, Civility in the City, and Asian American Youth. Lee’s work focuses on the implications of contemporary US immigration—particularly Asian immigration—on the native-born population, and has studied from a variety of analytical lenses: immigrant entrepreneurship and ethnic relations; intermarriage and multiracial identification; educational opportunities and outcomes; and affirmative action. Currently, she serves on the board of the Obama Presidency Oral History, and was an Inaugural board member of the Russell Sage Foundation’s Pipeline Grants Program. She has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and a Fulbright Scholar to Japan. Strongly committed to public engagement, Lee has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, and many other outlets.