Professor Russell Jeung Tracks Coronavirus-Related Racism


As the COVID-19 virus spread across the globe, Asian American Studies Professor and Chair Russell Jeung was busy tracking a different corrosive contagion: xenophobia. Early on he noticed a sharp rise in media reports about coronavirus-related racism, a finding he highlighted in reports sent to California civil rights groups. As a result, some of those groups are now working with the Asian American Studies Department to track — and hopefully help stop — pandemic-inspired harassment.

In one recent study, Jeung and two collaborators surveyed American news reports between Feb. 7 and March 9 and found a 50% increase in the number of articles about discrimination related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that first week, there were 93 stories. By the fourth week the number ballooned to 140 articles.

The College of Ethnic Studies has this legacy of working with community partners to try to effect social change.

The details in Jeung’s reports prompted California leaders to take action. In March, SF State, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON) and Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) launched the Stop AAPI Hate Center. The online database allows people to report harassment, shunning, bullying and other racially motivated attacks and assaults they witness or experience firsthand.

Another initiative proposed by Jeung — a statewide anti-racism ad campaign — has been funded by policy groups. The campaign will likely target social media, grocery stores and mass transit.

Though he’s been alarmed by the spike in anti-Asian discrimination, Jeung is impressed by the swift action to combat it. “This is a good example of community-engaged research that has policy impact,” he says. “The College of Ethnic Studies has this legacy of working with community partners to try to effect social change. This is just another example of how we work with students and the community to really empower the most marginalized in our society.”

This profile of Dr. Russell Jeung by SF State's Stategic Marketing & Communications department was originally printed in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of the SF State Magazine

Read more about Professor Jeung's research via the links below.


SFSU's Russell Jeung Calls for Community, Compassion in Countering Anti-Asian Racism

Dr. Russell Jeung, chair and professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU), joined Chris Tomlinson of the Houston Chronicle to discuss the uptick in racialized incidents directed toward Asian Americans as well as the broader historical and geopolitical contexts. He spoke on the steps people could take to address the issue and help prevent the harm that could result.

'I'm Asian, so I can never be American'

Attacks on East Asian people living in the US have shot up during the pandemic, revealing an uncomfortable truth about American identity. Authorities in New York City and Los Angeles say that hate incidents against people of Asian descent have increased, while a reporting centre run by advocacy groups and San Francisco State University says it received over 1,700 reports of coronavirus-related discrimination from at least 45 US states since it launched in March.


Empowering era for ethnic studies - San Francisco Chronicle, 6/29/2020

Fifty-one years ago, San Francisco State became the first university in the country to establish a College of Ethnic Studies. Seven years ago, SFSU graduate student Alicia Garza co-founded Black Lives Matter.

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