Almost half of all Americans cannot name a living Asian American celebrity, according to a new study.
On Tuesday, Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH) and the nonprofit Asian American Foundation shared the results of this year’s STAATUS (Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the United States) Index, which is now in its third year.
The recent study, which examines “attitudes towards and stereotypes of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs),” aims to “understand how Americans view Asian Americans, observe trends related to perceptions, and tap into the pulse of the country on important issues impacting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities.”
The study analyzed the results of a “nationally representative 15-minute survey.” Between Feb. 9 and March 13, 5,235 U.S.-based participants, aged 16 and above, answered the survey conducted by Savanta Research.
When asked to name a famous Asian American, 26% of the participants answered, “Don’t know.”
Actor and martial artist Jackie Chan — who is from Hong Kong, not the United States — was the second most popular answer for the third year in a row, with 12% of the participants naming him. Hong Kong and American martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, who died in 1973, was the third most popular answer (6%).
Altogether, 44% of the participants either answered “Don’t know” or said the names of individuals who are deceased or not Asian American.
The STAATUS Index’s authors noted that people of Southeast Asian descent were not listed among the top 20 names.
Meanwhile, 32% of the participants answered “Don’t know” when asked to name a famous Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
The second most popular answer was Dwayne Johnson, who was named by 23% of the participants. Musician Don Ho, who died in 2007, was the third most popular answer (8%), followed by Jason Momoa (5%).
The STAATUS Index also showed that Asian Americans “are often cast in stereotypical roles.”
In response to the question “In TV or the movies, Asian American women and men are often portrayed in the following type(s) of character roles?”, 28% of the participants said “Kung Fu/martial artist/expert” for Asian men. Meanwhile, 15% of the participants said “Geisha/sex worker/prostitute/stripper” for Asian women.
In addition to Asian American visibility and awareness, the STAATUS Index examined other categories, including “Race Relations in America,” “Perception of AAPIs,” “Belonging and Safety” and “Future Directions.”
The study listed several other notable results, including: “1 in 2 Asian Americans feel unsafe due to their race”; “57% of respondents believe that race relations are declining over the last five years”; “75% of Americans think racist attacks against Asian Americans are a problem today”; and “79% of Americans do not see people of Chinese descent as a threat.”
This year’s STAATUS Index can be found here.