40 Percent of Asians, Blacks Report Race-Related Negative Experiences Amid Pandemic

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic go beyond illness and economic hardship for some groups, including negative experiences due to their race or ethnicity, a new poll finds.

About 4 in 10 Asian and Black Americans have reported such experiences since the virus outbreak began, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 9,654 U.S. adults from June 4 to 10.

The poll found that 31 percent of Asian adults were subject to slurs or jokes because of their race or ethnicity, compared with 21 percent of African-Americans, 15 percent of Hispanics and 8 percent of whites.

While 4 in 10 U.S. adults find people expressing racist or racially insensitive views about Asians to be more common amid the pandemic, 58 percent of Asians say the same is true. Three in 10 Americans say it has become more common for people to express these views toward African-Americans, while 45 percent of Black adults say the same is true.

Pew told Newsweek this answer also fell across partisan and generational lines, with Democrats twice as likely as Republicans to say Asians are hearing more racist comments, and young people more likely than older Americans to feel the same way.

Asians have faced discrimination and racism in the wake of the virus outbreak, with the FBI warning of a potential surge in hate crimes because the virus originated in China. U.S. leaders have also stoked these fears, with President Donald Trump calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" and "kung flu."

The survey found that Asians and Blacks are not just responding to negative reactions based on their race or ethnicity. They also worry their own behavior may lead to a backlash. As mask wearing has been increasingly stressed by health experts as virus cases surge in states across the country, 42 percent of Blacks and 36 percent of Asians worry that people may see them as suspicious for wearing a mask.

Because of the timing of the survey, Pew told Newsweek, respondents' answers could not be separated from how they felt in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing in May while in Minneapolis police custody, which sparked protests across the nation.

"We wrote these questions before George Floyd was killed, but people answered right at the heights of protests," Juliana Horowitz, associate director of social trends research, said. She added that it is impossible to disentangle how people feel since the pandemic began from their response to the protests in their answers.

While the survey painted a gloomy picture of the state of racial relations in America, it was not all bad news. When it came to expressions of support because of their race or ethnicity since the pandemic began, 51 percent of Black adults say they've heard such reactions, while 29 percent of Latinos and 28 percent of Asians have.

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A protester wears a face mask bearing a flag during a June 6 demonstration in solidarity with racial justice protests across the U.S. CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty