10 Books About Anti-Asian Racism To Understand It Better
Read up on the history of racism against Asian Americans!
In March 2020, Covid-19 became a huge concern in the United States. Because of its origins in China, anti-Asian American sentiment, including hate crimes, have risen exponentially. In approximately a year's time more than 3,600 hate crimes and incidents were committed against Asian Americans with 68 percent of those committed against Asian American women. In the recent shooting at three spas, eight people were murdered, including six Asian American women.
With the rise of racism against Asian Americans, it is more important than ever for white people to educate themselves in order to become the best allies possible to help combat the racism Asian Americans face every day. This list includes 10 different books on the history of Asian Americans in the United States, including firsthand accounts and documents, memoirs, and essays. Read on to find out more.
Before you continue, we'd like to let you know that this post may contain affiliate links. Meaning if you click through and make a purchase, we might receive a small portion of the profit. Support our editorial work by supporting these brands!
1. The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
Erika Lee's The Making of Asian America is a must read for all those interested in the long history Asian Americans have played in the United States. The book takes readers from trans-Pacific sailors in the 1500s to modern day activists, immigrants, and refugees, digging into the visceral history Asian Americans have played in this country since before its inception.
2. Two Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States by Kurashige
Anti-Asian sentiment didn't begin and end with Japanese Internment during World War II. The United States has a long history of racism against Asian Americans across the history of the country. Kurashige describes the ways in which exclusionist policies began at the top with politicians, academics, and other high-ranking folks, perpetuating racism throughout the country.
3. Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank H. Wu
When much of race-related discussion in the United States revolves around relations between black and white people, it is easy to forget that racism is perpetuated against all racial minorities. In Yellow, Frank H. Wu explores immigration, affirmative action, and globalization through at Asian American lens, bringing to light a perspective far too often overlooked.
4. The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority by Madeline Y. Hsu
The history of Asian immigration into the United States is fraught. However, for elite businessmen, students, and academics, there were exceptions made, feeding into the myth of the model minority. With the fear of communism in the U.S., Asian students became little more than refugees, eventually used to spread American ideals throughout the world. The Good Immigrants takes a look at the myth of the model minority throughout its inception through today.
5. Yellow Peril!: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear by John Kuo Wei Tchen and Dylan Yeats
Yellow peril is the ridiculous fear that white Americans have something to fear from East Asian individual, particularly though in or who immigrate to the United States. Yellow Peril takes a look at the history of the concept through a cultural lens and includes images of posters, comics, photography, paintings, and other propaganda used to perpetuate the so-called yellow peril threat.
6. America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee
Another book by scholar Erika Lee, America for Americans is a critical look at the long-standing history of xenophobia in the U.S. While the books doesn't focus solely on xenophobia against Asian Americans (though there is a lot on that too), it is still an important look at the repercussions of xenophobia and the threat it continues to hold in the United States.
7. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
A recent release, Minor Feelings is a little different from the other books on the list. Cathy Park Hong's essays seamlessly weave together history, memoir, and cultural criticism, exposing the "minor feelings" that have haunted since youth and the context within which they fit into U.S. culture.
8. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans by Ronald Takaki
When it comes to books that help explain the expansive history of Asian Americans within the United States, Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Different Shore is the classic, required reading for anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of the role in which Asian Americans have played in the U.S. Part history book, part memoir, Strangers from a Different Shore is a must read!
9. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo
While it won't be out until mid-April, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry promises to be someday be a classic among literature on Asian American history and culture. After the murder of Vincent Chin, which resulted in far too lenient punishment for the murderers, protests sparked, leading to a Asian American Rights Movement. Paula Yoo chronicles Chin's murder and everything that came after.
10. Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People by Helen Zia
Dubbed a groundbreaking book on Asian American culture and history, Helen Zia's Asian American Dreams is a deep dive into the ways in which Asian Americans have come together to "shape a new consciousness" after the murder of Vincent Chin and other modern events movements like the Los Angeles riots.
Let's Keep the Conversation Going
Which of these books do you plan to add to your reading list?