An interdisciplinary research initiative studying anti-Asian racism and Asian American activism during the COVID-19 pandemic


The Virulent Hate Project, led by Dr. Melissa May Borja, uses news media to research trends in anti-Asian racism and Asian American activism. We identify, analyze, and map incidents of anti-Asian harassment, violence, discrimination, and stigmatization. In addition, we study the diverse forms of anti-racism activism undertaken at the local, state, and national levels, with special attention to government action, policy change, and community organizing. By focusing on stories reported in news media, we go beyond the big numbers to showcase the thousands of stories of how individuals and communities are responding to the recent surge in anti-Asian racism and violence.

Guiding our work is a deep commitment to building knowledge and creating resources in service of the public good. Our team’s mission is to equip the public with stories and research that will shape public policy, inform the advocacy work of community organizations, support educational programming, and improve understanding of Asian American experiences.

This project brings together a team of faculty and student researchers from universities across the country, including the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland, the University of Washington, the University of California-San Diego, and San Francisco State University. It has conducted research to support the work of Stop AAPI Hate and the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University.


The Virulent Hate Project is made possible by a generous grant from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative and the Center for Social Solutions.

Thank you to Peter Knoop and U-M LSA Technology Services for their GIS and web development expertise; to Studio Five Two for the graphic design of the website and reports; and to the Bridging Divides Initiative, which provided valuable guidance as we developed our research method. We are also grateful for administrative and research support from the U-M American Culture Department, the U-M Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program, and the U-M Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

University of Michigan's Poverty Solutions Initiative
University of Michigan's Center for Social Solutions