Keep on Wondering...

What are the connections between social and historical forces and the representations we see?
Why is yellowface still acceptable? When and how did yellowface turn into whitewashing?
How do these representations create and/or perpetuate stereotypes that are present in our world? What is the impact?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank H. Wu

It's a little concerning how long it took me to read this book. Warning: This is not a book you can read with your mind on your dinner.

Despite the fact that this book is not so easy to read, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Wu's description of anti-Asian sentiments in America is compelling and interesting, going pretty in-depth into the origins of these stereotypes, and then gently bashing them to pieces. I particularly enjoyed his sections on "The Perpetual Foreigner" and the model minority. Wu also tackles affirmative action, immigration, assimilation and intermarriage. One particular phenomenal chapter was about the "Dilemma of Diversity." Wu raised a lot of points that I found were really interesting and I had not thought of them before. I found that the examples and occasional anecdotes he wrote about I could relate to in some small way. Overall, this book opened up a whole new view on being Asian in America and what that means.

The subtitle of the book is "Race in America Beyond Black and White." Wu definitely goes into the contrasting of white and African American culture with a lot of really interesting analysis; however, I think I would have liked to have seen more contrast between white and Asian American perspectives or between African American and Asian American perspectives. That and the incredible denseness of this book...

A great read overall.


  1. *Yellow*, by Frank Wu, is a brilliant book. It does a wonderful job exposing what is so damaging and distorting about the superficial "positive" Asian stereotypes (model minority, good in math, etc.) I have tremendous respect for Prof. Wu: he is on the faculty of the Law School at Howard University a tradtionally African-American school. Wu has consciously chosen to teach at a black college because he belives the connection among non-whites fighting racism is so important. Jasmine, this a great post! Mike :-)

  2. Hello Mike! Thanks for reading!
    I agree, Yellow was a great book. Something I completely forgot to include in my review was his section entitled "The Best 'Chink' Food," which raised a lot of observations about stereotypes surrounding Asian cuisine that I was aware of but had never really given much thought to before. I'll have to go back and revisit that...