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Virulent Hate: Anti-Asian Racism and Resistance during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The projectIn the U.S., the first half of 2020 saw a sharp rise in hate incidents targeting Asian Americans, who have been scapegoated for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This project – which is a collaboration with the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center, Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University, and the Asian American Foundation – aims to improve public understanding of contemporary anti-Asian racism and resistance.

The process: To study the surge in anti-Asian hate incidents in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of student researchers at the University of Michigan and universities across the country gathered over 4,000 news articles in 2020 to identify and tag hundreds of incidents of anti-Asian racism and Asian American activism. The researchers have now started collecting and analyzing news articles about anti-Asian racism for 2021.

In response to requests from community partners, the researchers also conducted an analysis of politicians’ rhetoric about Asian Americans during the 2020 general election season, created a comprehensive and searchable database of Asian American community organizations in the United States, and conducted an analysis of religious communities’ statements on anti-Asian racism.

ResultsThe Virulent Hate Project created a website ( to share its findings, including a series of reports, an interactive map showing the location of racist incidents, and a summary of trends in harassment. 

Melissa Borja, assistant professor in the Department of American Culture and core faculty in the Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program, University of Michigan