Which ethnic group is targeted for discrimination, bullying and incivility more than any other group in the United States, according to a recent government study?
Yes, anti-Semitism has been on the rise for some time and in existence for centuries. According to some historians, anti-Semitism started in 63 B.C. when the Romans conquered Jerusalem, and it has escalated from there. Longevity, however, isn’t the issue. Contrary to popular belief about discrimination towards Jews, African- and Hispanic-Americans, the most victimized ethnic group in the U.S.—currently—is comprised of Asian Americans.
According to reporter Jeff Yang of The Wall Street Journal, “young Asian Americans are facing a bullying epidemic. Last year, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education released a joint study, showing that over half of Asian American teens said they’d been the subject of targeted abuse at school, versus approximately a third of blacks, Hispanics and whites.”
Indeed, AAPI Nexus reported that Asian-American students are bullied in American schools much more frequently than students belonging to other ethnic group.
Why? Asian Americans are, disproportionately targeted for abuse due to their real or perceived “social awkwardness, physical frailty and academic overachievement…,” Yang reports, adding that in America there is rising animosity toward immigrants and to those who look different. Furthermore, Asian Americans are misperceived as being predominately Muslim, he reported.
Why is this news about Asian Americans a surprise to many of us? Because the targeted bullying of Asian Americans goes largely unreported by the media. Yang says, “cultural and familial expectations push [children of immigrants] to submit to bullying” and they suffer in silence.
But, their silence in the face of bullying has its consequences. “Over the last ten years, depression rates among Asian Americans have skyrocketed.” Suicide is now the fifth most common cause of death among Asian Americans.
One such suicide recently made international headlines. Private Danny Chen killed himself after allegedly facing considerable bullying and abuse by fellow soldiers while based in Afghanistan because of his Chinese heritage. While bullying in schools has reached pandemic levels, the silent suffering of many Asian-American youth is only now emerging as an urgent issue.
I trolled several avenues for information on racism against Asian Americans including the internet and discovered a three year old conversation on Yahoo initiated by a Asian American teenager who in desperation put the question out to the masses, “Why are people so racist against Asians?” Visit http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090128200304AASRt1l and read the 38 responses she got.
By Paula Nourse