Honorary Whites vs. Yellow Peril: How Social Media Altered Asian Identity Throughout the Pandemic

Prize Year


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This paper is not available as it includes personal information in human-subjects survey.

As Covid-19 swept through the nation in the spring of 2020, uncertainty and fear spread even faster as frightening headlines dominated social media and news sources: “US Death Toll in the Coronavirus Outbreak Passes 80,000;” “New York Ventilator Shortage May Force Machine Sharing, but it’s Risky;” and “WHO Concerned Over Rapid Escalation in COVID-19 Spread.” With few answers to settle their fears, many Americans turned to point fingers at the Asian community. For instance, Donald Trump referred to the virus as the “Kung Flu,” placing an even larger target on Asian Americans. The resulting blame towards Asians led to a 339% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide, sparking discussions about Asian identity on multiple social media platforms (Yam np). Angela Gover, Shannon Harper, and Lynn Langton, professors and researchers of criminal justice at the University of Colorado Denver and Iowa State University, write in 2020, “Asian Americans have also reported a surge in a second epidemic targeting them specifically—racially motivated hate crimes involving physical violence and harassment— despite the disease impacting people of all races/ethnicities” (648).

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