Required Reading: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This AAPI Heritage Month, we’re taking a look at the diverse experiences of over 25 million Americans. Some books share the exceptional accomplishments of AAPI individuals, while others highlight the systemic issues that prevent communities from thriving. Each will leave you with a new understanding of the past and present experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Fierce and Fearless by Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Gwendolyn Mink

Best known as the legislative champion of Title IX, Patsy Takemoto Mink was the first woman of color and the first Asian American woman elected to Congress. Fierce and Fearless is the first biography written about her. The story of her life and work is chronicled by historian Judy Tzu-Chun Wu and Gwendolyn Mink, Patsy’s daughter.

Brown and Gay in LA by Anthony Christian Ocampo

Compiling stories from gay men coming of age in Los Angeles, Brown and Gay in LA is an homage to second-generation gay men and their radical redefinition of what it means to be gay, to be a man, to be a person of color, and, ultimately, what it means to be an American.

Stuck by Margaret M. Chin

Stuck takes a look at the behind-the-scenes of the Asian American experience in the corporate workplace.  Drawing on interviews with second-generation Asian Americans, Margaret M. Chin examines why they fail to advance as fast or as high as their colleagues—exposing what is known as the “bamboo ceiling.”

The Racial Railroad by Julia H. Lee

Despite the seeming supremacy of car culture in the United States, The Racial Railroad highlights the train as an important symbol for American national identity and as a critical site of race in the United States. From the Chinese American construction of the Transcontinental Railroad to the depictions of Native Americans in landscape and advertising, Julia H. Lee reveals the surprisingly central role that the railroad has played—and continues to play—in the formation of racial identity and difference in the United States.

Contemporary Asian America by Min Zhou and Anthony C. Ocampo

When Contemporary Asian America was first published in 2000, it exposed its readers to the formation of Asian American studies as an academic field of study. In its third edition, this foundational text continues to assess the Asian American experience from a social science perspective. The new topics tackled by this edition include: the impact of September 11 on Asian American identity and citizenship; the continued influence of globalization; and the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and class on the experiences of Asian immigrants and their children.

The Opportunity Trap by Pallavi Banerjee

Drawing on interviews with fifty-five Indian couples, The Opportunity Trap is the first book to look at the impact of the H-4 dependent visa programs on women and men visa holders in Indian families in America. Pallavi Banerjee provides a critical look at our visa system and its gendered and racialized ramifications, underscoring how it fails immigrant families.

Pain Generation by L. Ayu Saraswati

Social media has become the front-and-center arena for feminist activism. Pain Generation troubles this phenomenon by demonstrating how the problematic neoliberal logic governing digital spaces like Instagram and Twitter limits the possibilities of how one might use social media for feminist activism.

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