Social Navigation

44% of Americans can’t name a famous Asian American

News

More than one in four Americans are unable to name a famous Asian American, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study, conducted by the non-profit Asian American Foundation, found that when asked the question, 26% of respondents said “I don’t know”.

Jackie Chan, who is not American, was the second most popular answer for the third year in a row (12%). Bruce Lee, who died 50 years ago, was the second most popular choice (6%) and Vice President Kamala Harris was third (5%). In total, this comes down to 44% of respondents who don’t know or give an incorrect answer.

The study also revealed that Southeast Asians were not among the top 20 names.

The third annual Social Tracking of Asian Americans in the US Index, which examines attitudes and stereotypes toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, surveyed 5,235 American adults nationwide.

When asked to name a famous Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 32% said “I don’t know.” The other most popular picks were Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (23%), singer Don Ho, who died 16 years ago (8%), and actor Jason Momoa (5%).

Additionally, the study found that 18% of Americans did not know what roles Asian American men and women are often portrayed in television and movies. The most popular choice for women was geisha/sex worker/stripper (15%) and Kung Fu/martial artist (23%) for men.

The number of Americans unable to identify a famous Asian American has decreased since the first study. The first STAATUS index, which was released in 2021, found that 42% of Americans couldn’t name a famous Asian American. Among the names cited, the most popular choices were Jackie Chan (11%), Bruce Lee (9%) and Lucy Liu (5%).

“It just goes to show that even when we’re in the news, people don’t really take in the presence of Asian Americans in our country,” said Norman Chen, co-founder and chief executive of the nonprofit organization Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change. , previously told NBC News.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have faced systemic racism and stereotyping in the entertainment industry for decades. A 2021 study found that in the highest-grossing films between 2010 and 2019, audiences were often asked to laugh at Asian Americans onscreen. He also found that AAPI women were often disproportionately sexualized more than their Asian male and non-Asian counterparts.


Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.