HATE crimes towards East and Southeast Asians (ESEAs) have increased 21 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019, according to UK Police.
Researchers believe this is linked to significant reductions in life satisfaction, happiness, and mental health.
The community is currently reporting the highest levels of racism in the UK as organisations such as End the Virus that is Racism estimates a 300% increase in hate crimes against ESEAs.
ESEAs have an average life satisfaction of 5.78 out of 10 compared to minority other ethnic groups at 5.99 and Whites, 6.15, according to a new study by Simetrica-Jacobs, a leading research consultancy in wellbeing, economics, and social value analysis.
Dr. Fujiwara, visiting fellow at London School of Economics and CEO of Simetrica-Jacobs said: “It’s the first time we’ve collected data on wellbeing and discrimination for East and Southeast Asian people in the UK.
“It has an impact on mental health but also anxiety and happiness throughout their day, so there’s lots of impact on mental health and this is the first time we’ve managed to demonstrate it, because, at the moment, it’s been anecdotal evidence.”
The study found experiencing racism is associated with a 15 per cent increased likelihood of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Since the Coronavirus pandemic, racism towards the ESEA community has seen a sharp increase.
Anna Chan, founder of the Asian Leadership Collective, said: “[Covid] emboldened people. There’s always been an undercurrent of racism and scapegoating communities, it’s very nuanced in what the ESEA community go through mental health-wise.”
Data from the London Met show hate crimes against ESEAs spiked last year.
The Midlands police reported a doubling of hate crime towards ESEAs and Essex police found 56 per cent of hate crimes recorded between March and September 2020 were directed towards the East Asian community, a 75 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
The Home Office states that from 2017/18 to 2019/20 the percentage of Asian/Asian British over 16 who were victims of hate crime was 1.0, in comparison to Whites at 0.1.
Jason Kwan, originally from Hong Kong, said: “A lot of buried hidden and deep-rooted racism against Asian people has resurfaced and found a new life.
“People move away from me. I’ve had people mutter under their breath and say things like ‘Chinese virus’ or telling people to move away from me. I’ve had friends who’ve coughed and had people leave trains, which made travelling on transport feel very unsafe for me.”
This is not the first incident of racism the London-based singer/songwriter and charity worker has encountered. Shortly after moving to the UK at the age of 14 to escape homophobia, a glass bottle was thrown at him as well as racial slurs directed towards him.
He said: “I just thought to myself, this is what I’ve chosen to move to so I have to accept it, and because I was so desperate to leave homophobia in Hong Kong I was happy to be in a place that was racist because for me it was a change.”
Another report identified 1 in 7 people in the UK intentionally avoid people of Chinese origin or appearance and found numerous incidents were reported of ESEAs being assaulted, having their jaw broken, having their clothes torn off, and being spat on.
86% of Southeast Asians report experiences of racism, compared to an average of 88 per cent across all ethnic minority groups. 14 per cent who experience racism say it affects them their whole lives.
Experts believe ESEAs under-report incidents of racism and that the ‘model minority’ myth, a term assigned to minorities that are integrated in contrast to other minorities, plays a role in racism towards ESEAs being undetected.
Overall, ESEA groups are 10 percentage points less likely to judge the incident as racist compared to other ethnic groups.
Mr. Kwan said: “As Asian people, you can be the ‘better minority’ by behaving. You can be the more ‘acceptable’ one. When you’re talking about survival, the Asian community thrived through that, through being silent.
“It’s very difficult now with such a long history and culture of not speaking up, to then speak up and be taken seriously.”
Dr. Fujiwara said to understand the scale of incidents, there needs to be better categorisation. Currently, ESEAs can only categorise themselves as Chinese or other Asian.
“Because the ethnicity categories are so vague and too wide when a person from the Philippines, for example, reports a hate crime, the police don’t know where to put that, so it doesn’t get reported as a hate crime towards a Southeast Asian person it just becomes a hate crime towards someone of another ethnicity.”