Police brutality and profiling are seldom linked with the Asian American community -- certainly not due to a lack of cases, but because of selective media exposure; Asian Americans rarely are part of the national conversation. Their cases seem to take place mostly on the backstage, masked from the public eye. However, with the rise of more high-profile cases for Asian policing, such as the cases of Peter Liang in New York and Sureshbhai Patel in Alabama, as well as the recent case of David Dao with United Airlines in Chicago, is increasingly calling to attention the importance of being aware of issues in the relationship between law enforcement and Asian Americans.
Last November, 14,000 Asian American voters were asked the question, "Do you think that police departments treat racial and ethnic groups equally?" The results show that overall, half of the participating Asian American voters believed that treatment was not equal, a sentiment shared strongly especially by multi-ethnic or Korean and Indo-Caribbean Americans. On the other side of the spectrum, Cambodian and Vietnamese Americans leaned more towards the opinion that racial differences do not affect police treatment. However, these groups also carry the highest number of participants who stated that they do not know.
The divisions were not only split along ethnic lines, however, but generational ones as well, showcasing an intriguing combination of influences upon the Asian American community. The majority of younger Asian American voters from ages 18 to 29, a whopping 68%, gave the response that police treatment was discriminatory. However, for the older generations of ages 70 and upwards, only 32% of them cited discriminatory treatment and 40% of them responded that treatment was equal.
With younger generations of the Asian American community becoming increasingly aware, apprehensive, and even active on the issue of unequal police treatment as well as discrimination at large, current tensions beg the question of how racial differences will play out in an evermore globalizing society. Asian Americans are bound to only become a more integrated, involved, and larger presence within the U.S.; what kinds of hateful walls might racism continue to build? And how can we tear them down?