Using Asian Critical Race Theory and Resilience Theory, this qualitative study explores how Asian international college students experienced racism before and after the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they developed and used resilience to counteract that racism. Eleven Asian participants shared their counter-narratives through semi-structured interviews. Results reveal that, before the pandemic, participants were regularly subjected to racist acts and attitudes grounded in a deficit view of Asians that treated them as inscrutable foreigners, blamed them as individuals for perceived shortcomings in their home countries, dismissed their expertise outside of technical STEM fields, and failed to recognize their abilities in creative and leadership roles. During the pandemic, the racist acts and attitudes experienced by Asian international college students greatly exacerbated the unprecedented challenges of isolation, limited access to university space and resources, and financial and physical insecurity caused by the pandemic. Results also indicate that Asian international students developed resilience grounded on their life experiences and community assets to counteract racism.


Asian Critical Race Theory, COVID-19, critical counter-narrative, international students, racism, resilience

Author Bio(s)

Katrina Liu, Ph.D., is an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Focusing on theory, practice, and innovation in preparing teachers to teach in diverse classrooms, Katrina’s current research includes preparing critically reflective teachers for transformative learning, understanding the sociopolitical contexts of education, understanding social capital, and resilience among teachers of color and researchers of color, and using critical counter-narrative as methodological and pedagogical tools in teacher education. Her interdisciplinary work appears in journals such as Review of Research in Education, Educational Review, Education and Urban Society, and Journal of Teacher Education and Technology. She is author of the book, Critical Reflection for Transformative Learning: Understanding e-Portfolios in Teacher Education (2020, Springer). Please direct correspondence to katrina.liu@unlv.edu.

Richard Miller, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In addition to historical work on music and music education in East and Southeast Asia, his research focuses on technology, race, ethnicity, and language issues in teaching and teacher education. He has published on education in numerous venues including the Review of Research in Education, Education in Urban Society, and Educational Review. Please direct correspondence to richard.miller@unlv.edu.

Sharolyn D. Pollard-Durodola, Ed.D., is a Professor of English Language Learning in the Department of Early Childhood, Multilingual, and Special Education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Her scholarship focuses on enhancing the language and literacy development of multilingual learners during the early childhood years and investigating how to improve the quality of language/literacy practices of teachers to better serve the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students and families. Please direct correspondence to sharolyn.pollard-durodola@unlv.edu.

Lei Ping, M.Ed., is a doctoral candidate in Teacher Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She earned her master’s degree in education administration in Minzu University of China. Lei had intensive experience in teaching elementary students in rural contexts in China and also has experience in teaching undergraduate teacher education students in the United States. Her research interests include areas such as augmented reality, media literacy, and student-centered teaching in different cultural contexts. Please direct correspondence to pingl1@unlv.nevada.edu.


This study was supported by a College of Education Summer Research Fellowship at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The publication fees for this article were supported by the UNLV University Libraries Open Article Fund.

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