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Report finds anti-Asian bias still limits Long Island's recovery post-pandemic

Shoppers line up to pay cashiers in a supermarket
Chen Si
Shoppers line up to pay cashiers in a supermarket

According to a poll from the Asian American Institute for Research and Engagement, 60% of business owners said they've lost customers or faced racist threats due to anti-Asian sentiment. Now, Asian American business owners are calling on the government to step up to protect them from racial discrimination.

The report also found that 58% of AAPI community members experienced a hate crime, hate speech or other forms of discrimination, but only 20% said they've reported the incident to authorities.

The poll results did not surprise Farrah Mozawalla, the founder of the Asian American Institute in Syosset.

"When we're hearing these stories, we're hearing them over and over and over again," Mozawalla said about anti-Asian bias. "But whenever we bring these stories to the attention of change makers, policymakers, leaders in the community that are non-Asian, they kind of just sweep it under the rug, or they don't understand the importance of it."

She said that'd due to the stereotype of the "model minority" — a harmful myth that Asian American people are all rich and educated.

Mozawalla said a number of barriers can deter the AAPI community from seeking help from law enforcement and other government agencies, starting with easy access to language translation.

"There should be translations in Mandarin and Hindi and Urdu and Korean," she said. "And that's not the case."

Other reasons include a lack of confidence in the justice system and fear of retaliation. The report found two out of three AAPI adults don’t trust the justice system to protect them if they were to report a hate crime, and a quarter of poll respondents said they’ve changed their daily routine out of fear for their safety.

Mozawalla said government and law enforcement agencies need to expand their translation services and outreach efforts so that Asian Americans feel more confident to report discrimination.

Anti-Asian sentiment surged during the COVID-19 pandemic according to Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy group.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.