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NBC News assures us that despite viral images, it's mostly white people who are assaulting Asian Americans

NBC News is alerting us to a new analysis by Janelle Wong, a professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, that urges people not to let viral images of people of color assaulting Asian Americans color their perceptions (no pun intended). Wong looked into data from Stop AAPI Hate, Pew Research, official law enforcement statistics, and other sources to assure us that most assaults on Asian Americans are perpetrated by white people.

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The piece is headlined, “Viral images show people of color as anti-Asian perpetrators. That misses the big picture.”

Kimmy Yam reports:

“You have security camera videos that are more available and prevalent in certain types of urban settings. And so that’s what’s available to people in terms of sharing,” Ramakrishnan said. “The videos are more viral than if it’s something that doesn’t have any imagery or video connected to it, like something that’s happening in the suburbs, for example.”

When they are circulated, they play on a loop with no audio. Even though the videos alone don’t provide much detail about what’s happening, they dominate our perceptions, [AAPI Data founder Karthick] Ramakrishnan said.

“There’s just something so powerful about these visual images so that no matter what the social science might say, people believe their eyes and especially the images that get played on repeat now,” he said.

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Wong says that while videos highlight violent attacks, “studies show that most of the racism Asian Americans have faced because of the pandemic is verbal harassment or shunning.”

According to Wong, “… selectively amplifying aspects of the issue or omitting context can further perpetuate dangerous stereotypes and break opportunities for solidarity among marginalized groups.”


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