NSF Grant to Support UMBC-UMD Team Studying Racism Against Chinese Americans
A team of researchers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) will examine reports of intensified discrimination faced by Asian families in the United States accompanying the spread of novel coronavirus.
The spread of novel coronavirus, called COVID-19, from its origin in China to populations around the world has been accompanied in the United States by troubling reports of racism and discrimination against Chinese Americans.
Now, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) will examine this intensified discrimination faced by Asian families in the United States with the help of an $84,884 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant from the National Science Foundation.
By collecting data on public opinion, the social climate and the experiences of families, they aim to capture the current moment and make it possible for educators, health care providers and others to provide services and implement policies that educate and promote well-being in targeted marginalized groups and the larger public during future, similar events.
“The negative impact of infectious diseases on psychological health is understudied but highly significant, especially for minority groups linked to the disease through social group categorization,” said Charissa Cheah, a psychology professor at UMBC who is leading the research.
The team also includes Shimei Pan, assistant professor of information systems at UMBC, and Cixin Wang, assistant professor of school psychology in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education at UMD.
Social scientists Cheah and Wang will conduct focus groups and surveys to understand how various forms of racial discrimination connected to the novel coronavirus outbreak are impacting families, particularly the identity development and adjustment of Chinese American children.
After the initial research phase, they will complete follow-up research six to nine months later to learn how parents have helped socialize their children and offered coping strategies around issues of race, identity and psychosocial adjustment, in response to discrimination.
“As a researcher focusing on bullying and mental health, I have seen and heard about discrimination toward Chinese American and other Asian American students, and increased anxiety related to coronavirus. Historically, fear and anxiety during viral outbreaks can trigger bias towards certain groups,” said Wang. “We aim to study the unfolding outbreak and related discrimination against Chinese Americans and other Asian populations to identify specific ways to promote resilience and support children and families during this challenging time. People from all ethnicities are affected by COVID-19. We want to identify ways to support each other in the community. ”
Pan will lead the analysis of outbreak-related Twitter posts starting in late 2019 to understand how public opinion, including anxiety and discriminatory attitudes, changes as the outbreak intensifies or slows.
“This research is personally meaningful to me, as a Chinese American,” Pan said. “I am aware of the related events and sentiments expressed in the news. As a parent to a Chinese American teenage son, I wonder how this experience will influence his identity formation now and as an adult.”
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