Wednesday, June 7, 2006

a few random thoughts & some humble recommendations

When I was hired on the tenure track at my college, I searched in the library archives to find the first Asian American professor in the English department so I could ask if I could name a writing contest after her or him. I was a bit surprised to find that the first such professor wasn't hired in the 1960's, 70's, or even the 80's. It was me. And this was 1997.

Why isn't Vincent Chin taught in the (middle or high school) history books? Is there a legislator out there who could take this on?

If you would like a good read on race dynamics with an eye toward Asian Pacific Americans, I highly recommend Frank Wu's Yellow: Race in America and Beyond Black and White. Superb.

If you want to read a good book on problematic images of Asian Pacific Americans in print and visual media, I highly recommend M. Evelina Galang's Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images.

If you could care less about such issues, or if you are simply looking for a good summer novel, I recommend Daniel Chacon's and the shadows took him. But go back later and check out Wu or Galang. You'll be glad you did. By the way, Chacon is the Distinguished Visiting Writer at Fresno State in the fall, on leave from UTEP.

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Bryan Thao Worra said...

I think Vincent Chin should be essential in the classrooms. I've had people ask me why I always bring him up in so many of my editorials and classroom lectures, and I point out that having lived in Michigan when he was murdered, the whole case fundamentally altered how I saw myself as a human being and as an Asian American.

And even though there are far worse cases that have emerged since then, the lessons of Vincent's death demonstrate so many aspects of the Asian American experience and why we must continue to fight for recognition and solidarity as an Asian Pacific community that at this moment, I can think of no other case that so concretely crystallizes the issue of our modern times.

Bryan Thao Worra said...

Congrats on being #1 for the Asian American English Professor on their tenure track, Lee.

I think you're a great addition there, but of course, I think you belong at any institution committed to excellence. But hey, full disclosure here, I'm biased.

I like Wu's Yellow, but having been in the middle of the subject he's writing about from a first-hand perspective, of course I think he's coming to the right conclusions, but it's a little old news to us in MN. Still essential reading, though!

Hey, there are a couple of great folks from MN who've got some work in Screaming Monkeys, too. (No, I'm not one of them, but they're good reading!)

Pris said...

It's amazing to learn you were the first! I'm sure that, with your gifts, you've paved the way so you won't be the last.