Discrimination towards Asian Americans during COVID-19: Consequences and Solutions

Office of Alumni and External Relations    2021-03-10

Discrimination towards Asian Americans during COVID-19: Consequences and Solutions

Guest: Cixin Wang, Associate professor, University of Maryland

Host: Prof. Chen Jingqiu, Antai

Time:Friday, Mar 26th, 2021,  10:00-11:30

Venue: Zoom (for conference number and password, pleas send email to by 12:00, Mar 25th)


The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has accentuated the systemic racism toward Asian Americans. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the scapegoating rhetoric and exclusionist immigration and border policies have been the political and systemic backdrop to the everyday racial and xenophobic discrimination targeting Asian Americans, which quickly expanded to be anti-immigrant, ultra-nationalist and white supremacist (Tessler et al., 2020). I will present two studies to examine Asian Americans' experience of racial discrimination during COVID-19, and discuss protective factors and possible solutions.  

Study 1: Online survey data were collected from 543 Chinese American adults (mean [SD] age, 43.44[6.47] years; 425 female [78.3%]) and 230 of their children. Nearly half of them reported being directly targeted by COVID-19 racial discrimination online or in person. Experiences of racial discrimination predicted more depression and anxiety. We also conducted semi-structured interview with 80 adults to gain deeper understanding of their experiences and explore possible solutions to reduce COVID-19 racial discrimination. 

Study 2: Using survey data from 218 Asian/Asian American college students, we examined whether social support was a stress buffer against direct online and vicarious general racial discrimination, and whether the buffering effect depended on external locus of control (LOC). Results showed that an alarming percentage of Asian/Asian American college students reported direct online (58.7%) and vicarious racial discrimination (88.1%), as well as elevated mental health problems: 42.2% of the college students endorsed clinically significant anxiety symptoms and 37.2% endorsed clinically significant depressive symptoms. Moderated moderation with bootstrap analysis revealed detrimental effects of direct online and vicarious racial discrimination on mental health, and protective effects of social support and low external LOC. 


Cixin Wang is an associate professor of School Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park (Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education), Associate Editor for School Psychology Review, and Research Advisor for Mental Health First Aid USA. She received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2011. She then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Behavioral Psychology at School of Medication at Johns Hopkins University in 2013. Her research focus on bullying, discrimination, and mental health among culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) families. Her research seeks to: (1) better understand different factors contributing to bullying/ discrimination and mental health difficulties, including individual, family, school, community, and cultural factors; (2) develop effective prevention and intervention techniques to prevent bullying and discrimination; and (3) develop programs to promote mental health among students and families, especially among Asian Americans. She has received multiple grants from National Science Foundation, American Psychological Association, and American Psychological Foundation to examine discrimination, and develop interventions to stop bullying and promote mental health. To recognize her contribution, she received the Early Career Award from Asian American Psychological Association in 2017. 

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