Reading List: Kai

Keywords: biracialism, multiracialism, Asian American literature, identity, racial ambiguity

Secondary sources:

Ho, Jennifer Ann. Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture. Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Hoskins, Bruce Calvin. Asian American Racial Realities in Black and White. First Forum Press, 2011.

Root, Maria P. P. Racially Mixed People in America. Sage Publications, 1992.

Suyemoto, Karen L. “Racial/Ethnic Identities and Related Attributed Experiences of Multiracial Japanese European Americans.” Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, vol. 32, no. 4, Oct. 2004.

Academic journal: Multi Ethnic Literature of the U.S. (MELUS)

After compiling a list of draft materials for last week’s class, I knew that I wanted to expand on the keywords and concepts that I had thought of. Though I am still struggling with deciding on a more focused subject, I decided to go with topics that I am curious about and wish to do more research on. I am interested in the representation of multiracial people in literature and what the relationship is between their literary portrayals and realistic selves. I am specifically curious about works of both fiction & nonfiction and about biracial Asian Americans (such as half-Japanese & half-white Americans like myself) and how their identities are shaped culturally, nationally, and racially in both literary fiction and reality. Are biracial and/or multiracial groups prominent in literature? Does literature help multiracial people gain insight on their identities? What are the struggles that these groups face? What are the benefits?

Having grown up as a biracial person in America, I’m aware of how the challenges, emotions, and opportunities that shape identity and sense of belonging. I especially became interested in this topic after reading Trevor Noah’s memoir entitled Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood in which the author, a half white and half black man, navigates through apartheid South Africa. It was a refreshing read as Trevor Noah touched upon familiar topics such as biracialism, choosing sides, identity, and perspective in a simultaneous comical and serious manner. It made me wonder why stories revolving around multiracialism were not as prominent in mainstream literature. Additionally, I have recently read John Okada’s No-No Boy which goes into detail about torn cultural and national identity for Japanese Americans in the aftermath of World War II. This novel has gotten me interested in Asian Americans and their appearances in literature, hence why I wish to specifically focus on this ethnic national group of people.

In terms of authors and primary texts, I believe that Mary-Lee Chai’s Hapa Girl: A Memoir will provide me with helpful information for my research. This is because it is a story about the daughter of a Chinese father and an Irish-American mother and the racial anxiety, fear, hatred, and tension that she faces in both America and China. Reading a memoir through the eyes of a biracial character in an unwelcoming world will give me insight on the struggles of multiracial people and how they overcome such difficulties.