Allie Highsmith ’22 studies the impact of racism and xenophobia against East Asian Americans 

Soon after the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States, Allie Highsmith ’22 first heard President Donald Trump refer to the illness as “the Chinese virus” and the “kung flu.” As a double major in Chinese language and culture and sociology and anthropology, Highsmith has always been interested in the East Asian American experience and wanted to study how real people cope with anti-Asian sentiments. Soon after she submitted her summer research proposal, a lone gunman killed six Asian women in Atlanta, Ga., bringing the subject of hate crimes directed at East Asian Americans into the national spotlight, when it had previously been largely ignored by mainstream media outlets. In the wake of that tragedy and other items in the news about harassment directed at people of East Asian descent, Highsmith hoped her research could raise awareness among her peers about the issue of anti-Asian hate.