About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

#12: Yellow

Yellow: Race in America beyond Black and White, by Frank H. Wu (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

Jacket Summary: "The days when racial dialogue in the United States was limited to a discussion of black and white are through. As the twenty-first century dawns, the Asian-American population is growing at a faster rate than any other demographic, increasing by 48% throughout the 1990s and altering the nature of American color politics forever.

"Writing in the tradition of W.E.B. Du Bois, Cornel West, and others who confronted the 'color line' of the twentieth century, journalist, scholar, and activist Frank H. Wu offers a unique perspective on how changing ideas of racial identity will affect race relations in the new century.

"Wu's description of the alienation faced by Asian Americans tackles key milestones in history, suc as the 1940s internment camps and the 1992 L.A. riots, as well as surprising statistics about the continuing presence of anti-Asian sentiment. In May 2001, a major national survey of highly educated individuals showed that almost half of all Americans believe that Chinese Americans are likely to pass secret information to China. About a third agree that Chinese Americans are probably more loyal to China than the United States, and few distinguish between Chinese Americans and other Asians.

"Yellow looks at the problems of racial diversity with a new focus, elevating the age-old debate from its formerly static terms. Wu examines affirmative action, globalization, immigration and other controversial contemporary issues through the lens of the Asian-American experience. Mixing personal anecdotes, legal cases, and journalistic reporting, Wu confronts damaging Asian-American stereotypes such as 'the model minority' and 'the perpetual foreigner.' By offering new ways of thinking about race in American society, Wu's work dares us to make good on our great democratic experiment."

Table of Contents:
  • 1 - East Is East, West Is West: Asians as Americans
  • 2 - The Model Minority: Asian American "Success" as a Race Relations Failure
  • 3 - The Perpetual Foreigner: Yellow Peril in the Pacific Century
  • 4 - Neither Black Nor White: Affirmative Action and Asian Americans
  • 5 - True But Wrong: New Arguments Against New Discrimination
  • 6 - The Best "Chink" Food: Dog-Eating and the Dilemma of Diversity
  • 7 - The Changing Face of America: Intermarriage and the Mixed Race Movement
  • 8 - The Power of Coalitions: Why I Teach at Harvard
  • Epilogue - Deep Springs
My Take: Interesting, but in places, a bit too dense and philosophical for the layperson. Did offer a different take on race in American life, but I think I need to read about something else for a while.

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