The reluctance to report could have to do with fear of retaliation as well as a concern over whether justice will be served, one researcher said.
A new report highlights how prevalent the underreporting of hate incidents is in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
The survey, released Tuesday by AAPI Data, a policy and research nonprofit group, showed that Asian Americans have experienced hate incidents at a significantly higher percentage than the general population, but are also among the least likely to say they are “very comfortable” reporting hate crimes to authorities.
“What our data show is that upwards of 2 million AAPIs have experienced these hate incidents since Covid-19 started,” Karthick Ramakrishnan, the group’s founder who helped lead the study, told NBC Asian America. “But a very small fraction of them have reported to community hotlines and an even smaller proportion, at least what we know, have been established by law enforcement authorities as hate crimes.”
Researchers examined responses from more than 16,000 people of all major races who participated in the online survey at the end of March. They found that so far this year, roughly 1 in 10 Asian Americans had experienced hate crimes or hate incidents. In comparison, 6 percent of the general population had this year.
In 2020, 12 percent of Asian Americans and 10 percent of Pacific Islanders experienced hate incidents, while the national average was 8 percent.
In general, over a quarter of Asian Americans and a similar percentage of Pacific Islanders reported having experienced hate incidents at some point in their lives. But when asked how comfortable they would be reporting a hate crime to law enforcement authorities, 30 percent of Asian Americans and 36 percent of Pacific Islanders responded that they were “very comfortable.”
But other groups, including Black and Latino Americans, reported higher rates, at 45 percent and 42 percent, respectively. White respondents had the highest percentage for being comfortable with reporting to law enforcement, at 54 percent.
Ramakrishnan pointed out that the reluctance to report could have to do with fear of retaliation as well as concern over whether justice will be served. A New York City principal reflected many of these findings, telling NBC Asian American this year that many of her students, who are from immigrant families living in low-income neighborhoods, indicated that they fear retaliation if they report racist incidents.
She added that because police often don't provide translators or help in navigating the complex criminal justice system, many in the heavily immigrant population distrust law enforcement, or doubt their effectiveness.