Beacon Press: Asian American Is Not A Color
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Asian American Is Not A Color

Conversations on Race, Affirmative Action, and Family

Author: OiYan Poon

A mother and race scholar seeks to answer her daughter’s many questions about race and racism with an earnest exploration into race relations and affirmative action from the perspectives of Asian Americans

Before being struck down by the US Supreme Court in June 2023, affirmative action remained one of the few remaining policy tools to address racial inequalities, revealing peculiar contours of racism and anti-racist strategies in America. Through personal reflective essays for and about her daughter, OiYan Poon looks at how the debate over affirmative action reveals the divergent ways Asian Americans conceive of their identity. With moving sincerity and insightful study, Poon combines extensive research with personal narratives from both herself and a diverse swath of individuals across the Asian American community to reflect on and respond to her daughter’s central question: What does it mean to be Asian American?

Poon conducts interviews with Asian Americans throughout the US who have been actively engaged in policy debates over race-conscious admissions or affirmative action. Through these exchanges, she finds that Asian American identity remains deeply unsettled in a contest between those invested in reaching the top of the racial hierarchy alongside whiteness and those working toward a vision of justice and humanity co-constructed through cross-racial solidarity.

Poon uses these contrasting viewpoints to guide her conversations with her daughter, providing a heartfelt and optimistic look at how understanding the diversity and nuances of the Asian American experience can help us envision a more equitable future.
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“A love letter, a call to action, an homage to a genealogy of resistance: Poon’s book is all of the above. This book is about the histories that Asian Americans carry with them as they forge their place—and future—in a country hell-bent on erasing them. I promise: you will not be the same after reading this book.”
—Anthony Christian Ocampo, author of Brown and Gay in LA

“While Asian Americans have been central to the debate over affirmative action in education, we have also been all but silenced in it. Here, finally, Poon—one of our leading scholars—restores the record. With courage and rigor but most of all bottomless empathy and heart, she debunks the false narratives and reveals the complexities of how Asian Americans actually feel about race and the future. An intimate, indispensable portrait of Asian America.”
—Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

“This book goes there—taking on race and racism within the Asian American community. In these catastrophic times, Dr. Poon’s patient analysis of competing worldviews shows a way out: respectful listening across differences. Not because ‘all sides’ are equally valid but because human beings can change and grow. Fighting for justice sometimes requires walking with those whose steps don’t quite match ours. This lovely amalgam of qualitative research and memoir shows how to walk that walk.”
—Mari Matsuda, coauthor of We Won’t Go Back: Making the Case for Affirmative Action

“Bravo! This is that rare scholarly volume that will capture the imagination of additional readers (parents and teachers) looking to explain the complex and difficult problems of race to inquisitive youngsters. Poon’s approach is brilliant, engaging, and long overdue!”
—Carl A. Cohn, professor emeritus in the School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University

Asian American Is Not a Color is a fast-paced, dynamic book that pulls us into challenging conversations about what we should do in a society riven by deep racism. Few books are as sophisticated but also as accessible in exploring Asian American racial identities as they’ve been made, and also as Asian Americans are remaking them today. A fabulous must-read!”
—Ian F. Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism & Wrecked the Middle Class

“But Asian American Isn’t a Color”

The Ancestors and Their Contrasting Dreams

Commonalities Across the Affirmative Action Divide:
Do We Even Know What We Are Arguing About?

Community Divides:
Theories of Change, Social Media, and Identities

“If Not Me Then Who?”:
Chinese Americans Reacting to Racial Erasure

“K(No)w History, K(No)w Self”:
Asian Americans in Solidarity for Justice

Asian American Identity Is a Solidarity Ethic and Practice

Interview Participants

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Asian American Is Not A Color

ISBN: 978-080701362-5
Publication Date: 4/30/2024
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $27.95
Format: Cloth
Availability: In stock.
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