By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A first of its kind survey from the newly formed group Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change or LAAUNCH has found that Asian Americans are still largely invisible in society, despite their contributions and history in this country.

“I’m shocked, I’m sad, I’m disappointed, but this is the data that suggests that we have a lot more work to do to,” said LAAUNCH board member Eric Toda.

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He was reacting to the finding that 37% of white Americans say they’re not aware of an increase in hate crimes and racism against Asian Americans over the past year. 24% said anti-Asian racism isn’t a problem that should be addressed.

The results of the report from LAAUNCH are based on a survey of 2,766 US residents, ages 18 and over, conducted online between March 29 to April 14, 2021.

Another big takeaway from the survey – 42% of people struggled to name a prominent Asian American today.

“The answer that they do have are Jackie Chan, who is obviously not American, and Bruce Lee, who has been deceased for quite some time,” said Toda. “And they don’t recognize Kamala Harris as an Asian American, and they haven’t said Andrew Yang, and so in prominence that just shows you that there is some level of hypocritical feelings.”

That’s because half of non-Asian American respondents incorrectly believed the group is fairly or over-represented in leadership positions.

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80% of Asian Americans, the fastest growing minority group in the US, said they face discrimination in America.

On Saturday, actor and Oakland resident Daniel Wu energized the crowd at the Unite Against Hate march and rally to mark AAPI heritage month. Hundreds blew whistles in solidarity with similar events across the country at noon. The organizers and featured speakers, which included Mayor Libby Schaaf and President of Oakland’s Chinatown Chamber of Commerce Carl Chan, encouraged the crowd to support Asian-owned businesses and register to vote.

“We know that we can’t solve these problems in the short-term, there are long term solutions,” said Wu. “It’s great to see the community united together like this, and this is a great moment, but we need to keep pushing.”

LAAUNCH is doing so by sharing the new data with congressional leaders, including Representative Ted Lieu, to inform policy and push for Asian American history courses in classrooms.

“We do believe that having this study out in the world will help gain more perspective, not just in the Asian American community, but all communities overall to understand the Asian American experience in America,” said Toda. “The more that we understand the Asian American experience in America the more we can have allies to support us.”

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Now that LAAUNCH has baseline data, they plan to conduct this survey annually to track changes in public perception over time.