Criminal Justice and Criminology Professor Conducts Research on Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans
Dr. Yan Zhang’s research on hate crimes against Asian Americans has recently been published and has gathered media attention from several outlets.
Zhang, a professor of criminal justice at Sam Houston, has been researching this topic for a couple of years now and has seen that hate crimes against Asian Americans is severely underreported. Though the UCR hate crime statistics shows that there had not been significant increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the past, a consistent increase has been observed since 2017. As COVID-19 has been spreading across the United States, hate crimes against Asian Americans have been surging dramatically. According to Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit organization dedicated to tracking and responding to reports of hate crimes against Asian Americans, there have been almost 4,000 incidents reported since the start of the pandemic. Though these numbers are constantly increasing, many state and local officials are reporting no significant spikes in their data. Dr. Zhang believes that this is because of several underlying factors such as language barriers, immigration status, cultural difference, and lack of knowledge in the justice system, Asian Americans being the least likely to report crimes, and the process of reports being considered a hate crime.
Dr. Zhang has been closely following these trends and noticed a consistent increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans as the population grows. She began studying hate crimes against Asian Americans because she noticed that hate crime research was mainly focused on other minority groups. Her research shows that hate crimes against Asian Americans is similar to African Americans and Hispanics in terms of victims’ characteristics, but different with regard to the racial composition of offenders and most situational factors.
She hopes that with the increase in media coverage, that people begin to take hate crimes against Asian Americans more seriously, saying “previously, you did not see any coverage (on hate crimes against Asian Americans), but with the recent coverage of the high profile incidents and President Biden’s announcement condemning hate crimes against Asian Americans, I think that would be helpful to make people know that hate crimes against Asian Americans exists.”
Dr. Zhang hopes to conduct a high-quality study on hate crimes against Asian Americans to collect accurate data to get a better understanding of the phenomenon. The data that is currently being used by the government does not accurately portray the significant increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans. Dr. Yan Zhang remains hopeful as recently the Senate passed COVID-19 Hate Crime Act, and as more research is being conducted and media outlets are covering hate crimes against Asian Americans that accurate data will be available to the public.