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Older members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community who have experienced hate attacks believe life in the United States has become more dangerous for them, according to a report from a group that tracks Asian hate incidents.
The report, released by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition and supported by AARP, found that Asian Americans ages 60 and older were more likely to be physically assaulted than others in the Asian American population. One out of 4 incidents reported against Asian American elders—26.2 percent—were cases of physical assault, compared with 15.4 percent for those under the age of 60.
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The report also found that older AAPI community members were refused services more often than their younger counterparts and had their property vandalized more often than younger members of the AAPI community. Of those Asian American and Pacific Islanders 60 and older who reported hate incidents:
- 62.5 percent were verbally harassed or shunned
- 7.8 percent were coughed or spat upon
- 7.2 percent had property vandalized
- 5.7 percent said they had been refused service
The Stop Asian Hate coalition has been tracking anti-Asian hate incidents, receiving nearly 11,000 reports between March 2020 and December 2021. Nearly 8 percent of those reports, or 824 incidents, were attacks against older Asian Americans, a figure the group says is likely an undercount because some in that group face language, technological and cultural barriers that make them reluctant to file a report.
“From the start, we were alarmed by elders who reported racism to our website,” says Russell Jeung, coauthor of the report and cofounder of the Stop Asian Hate coalition, and an Asian American studies professor at San Francisco State University. “You don't normally think of elders going online and complaining about mistreatment. They tend to underreport. [So] the fact that so many elders were sharing their stories concerned us.”
Daphne Kwok, AARP’s vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Asian American and Pacific islander Audience Strategy, noted that the report is “significant because it spotlights the impact of COVID-19 quarantine orders and the rise in anti-Asian hate on the safety, social isolation and mental health of AAPI older adults.”
Grappling with stress and anxiety
Asian Americans aged 65 and older accounted for about 4.4 percent of the total U.S. population in that age range, and more than 9 percent of the Asian American population in 2019, according to the U.S. census. In general, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center.