Books that show Asian Americans have never been silent
As long-standing xenophobia and racism against Asian Americans reached national consciousness after the recent wave of anti-Asian attacks and shootings in the Atlanta area, countless calls were made for the community so that it “breaks our silence”.
But Asian Americans have never been silent. They have long spoken of injustices – from resistance to racist immigration laws, anti-Chinese purges and lynchings, to fighting the incarceration of Japanese Americans, organizing workers’ strikes, advocating for civil rights and by protesting against war, imperialism and police brutality.
Inspired by Black Power and other movements led by people of color, the inherently political term “Asian American” was coined in the late 1960s by students and activists resisting marginalization. , racism and gentrification. But as the stereotype of the model minority gained ground, pitting ethnic groups against one another, the story of radical Asian Americans was not what the media or American history textbooks necessarily wanted. tell.
From biographies and fiction to memoir, poetry, and non-fiction, these eight books highlight some of the ways the community has organized, advocated, and fought against oppression over the years.
“Mountain Movers: Student Activism & The Emergence of Asian American Studies” edited by Russell Jeung, Karen Umemoto, Harvey Dong, Eric Mar, Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani and Arnold Pan
The history of student movements in the turbulent 1960s at San Francisco State University, University of California at Berkeley, and University of California at Los Angeles is recounted in “Mountain Movers: Student Activism and the Emergence of Asian American Studies ”.
While sharing nine oral histories of past and newer student activists, the anthology shows how the student organization and strikes led to the establishment of Asian-American studies on their respective campuses and at other universities. , which empowered the community as a whole.
“Iep Jāltok: Poems of a Marshalese Girl” by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner
The first collection of poetry published by a Marshallese author, “Iep Jāltok: Poems of a Marshalese Girl” by Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner draws attention to the decades of colonialism, environmental destruction and social injustice experienced by the people of Marshals. Born in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific and raised in Hawaii, Jetñil-Kijiner’s first lyrical collection, released in 2017, raises serious issues such as nuclear testing, racism and climate change that have and continue to affect the world. both the Marshallese and the Diaspora.
“No-No Boy” by John Okada
First published in 1957, “No-No Boy” is a fictional story of real-life “no-no boys” who twice answered “no” to a mandatory government questionnaire asking if they were going to serve in the armed forces and swear loyalty to America after being forcibly imprisoned by the US government due to their Japanese ancestry during World War II. Through the protagonist Ichiro Yamada, sentenced to two years in prison for his refusals, the novel explores the fractured Japanese American community of the post-war period.
“Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farm Worker Movement” by Lilia Villanueva and Craig Scharlin
In 1965, Filipino farm workers sat in the grape fields of Delano, California, beginning the strike that led to a dramatic change in the long history of farm labor struggles in the Golden State. Their efforts formed the basis of the union of agricultural workers united under Cesar Chavez. In his oral memoirs, the late Philip Vera Cruz, vice president of the union, reflects on the discrimination, outrageous living conditions and oppressive labor practices of the manong generation, the first group of Filipino immigrants to arrive in the United States. in the 1920s and 1930s who worked in farm jobs in California and Hawaii.
“Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America” by Daryl J. Maeda
A cultural history of Asian-American activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, “Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America” traces the rise of the radically anti-racist Asian-American movement. The book shows how Asians of many ethnicities united in racial solidarity under the aegis of “Asian Americans” and how Black Power and anti-war movements influenced activists to band together and come together. oppose racism in the United States, as well as imperialism abroad.
“Many bridges, one river: organizing for justice in Vietnamese American communities” edited by Thuan Nguyen and Vy Nguyen
A collection of oral history accounts highlighting the young Vietnamese American community and the organizers of the work, “Many Bridges, One River: Organizing for Justice in Vietnamese American Communities,” highlights the complexities of the work in Vietnamese communities. From the Union of Vietnamese anti-war efforts in the United States in the 1970s to the LBGTQ campaigns in California and the post-Hurricane Katrina work on the Gulf Coast, the book examines the struggles around redbaiting, sexism. , homophobia, linguistic and intergenerational barriers. differences.
“Heartbeat of a Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama” by Diane Fujino
The first biography of Yuri Kochiyama, who cradled Malcolm X in his arms as he died inside the Audubon Ballroom in 1965, “Heartbeat of a Struggle” examines the life of legendary civil rights activist, his “all American” childhood to that of his family. forced imprisonment during the war. The traumatic experience led Kochiyama to four decades of tireless social justice work in the struggle for black liberation, Asian-American equality, Puerto Rican independence, and defense of political prisoners.
“Desi Divas: Political Activism in South Asian American Cultural Representations” by Christine L. Garlough
The result of five years of field research with progressive activists, “Desi Divas: Political Activism in South Asian American Cultural Performances” analyzes how traditional cultural forms are used by entertainment activists to address gender inequalities. , immigration rights, hate crimes and religious violence. The in-depth book features the School of Indian Languages and Cultures, or SILC, South Asian Americans Leading Together, or SAALT, the feminist dance collective Post Natyam and grassroots feminist political organization South Asian Sisters.