Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America / Edition 1

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Who are Asian Americans? Are they the remnants of the "yellow peril" portrayed in the media through stories on Asian street gangs, unscrupulous political fundraisers, and crafty nuclear spies? Or are they the "model minority" that the media present as consistently outranking European Americans in math scores and violin performances?

In this funny, sobering, and always enlightening collection, journalist William Wong comments on these and other anomalies of the Asian American experience. From its opening tribute to the Oakland Chinatown of Wong's childhood to its closing tribute to Tiger Woods, Yellow Journalist portrays the many-sided legacies of exclusion and discrimination. The stories, columns, essays, and commentaries in this collection tackle such persistent problems as media racism, criminality, inter-ethnic tensions, and political marginalization. As a group, they make a strong case for the centrality of the Asian American historical experiences in U.S. race relations.

The essays cover many subjects, from the personal to policy, from the serious to the silly. You will learn a little Asian American history and a lot about the nuances and complexities of the contemporary Asian American experience. If there is an overriding theme of these stories and essays, it is the multi-faceted adaptation of ethnic Asians to the common American culture, the intriguing roles that they play in our society, and the quality of their achievements to contribute to a better society.

Bill Wong's high school journalism teacher took him aside during his senior year and told him he would have to be "twice as good" to succeed at his chosen profession. Succeed he did, and "twice as good" he is. As Darrell Hamamoto remarks in his Foreword, "'Chinaman,' Chinese American, Asian American; any way you slice it, Bill Wong is one straight-up righteous Yellow Man."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"For three decades, William Wong has been America's most energetic and entertaining chronicler of the Asian diaspora and its effects on politics, culture, business, sports, dress, diet, and language. Like other great humorists, he exposes the painful absurdities that plague each new wave of immigrant families as they enrich the national character, from Wong's own adventurous parents to Tiger Woods. Some of these pieces offer surprising insights on geopolitics and others explore the legal and social consequences of racial discrimination, but my favorites are the playful essays, including the classic 'So That's Why I Can't Lose Weight.' "
Jay Mathews, Washington Post reporter and columnist, and author of Class Struggle

"One of the advantages of having a writer of Bill Wong's talent around is that we don't have to depend upon intermediaries and go-betweens to give us insights about issues affecting Asian-Americans. He is often entertaining, and ironic, but underneath it all is a serious mind devoted to shattering myths about one of our fastest growing minorities."
Ishmael Reed, author of The Reed Reader

"It is about time that America meet William Wong—an icon in journalism whose experience as a second generation Chinese-American has given him a unique lens through which life in America can be examined. For almost two decades, his columns in the Oakland Tribune and other San Francisco bay area newspapers have captured a different kind of reality about some of our most important social, cultural, and political moments. Wong's readiness to share his family, his community, and his conscience allows readers to cross a bridge into the world of Asian America. Whether it is an analysis of the 1996 campaign finance scandals or a perspective on how parent pressures and bi-cultural conflicts can play out in a young Asian American teen's life, Wong's skillful weaving of humor, irony, and poignant portrayals of the circumstances make each story linger long past the final sentence of his essay."
Angela E. Oh, Lecturer/Former Advisory Board Member, President's Initiative on Race

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566398305
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Series: Mapping Racisms Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Writer and journalist William Wong has been regional commentator for The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, Oakland Tribune, and Asian Week, among other publications.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Introduction 1
1 Hometown: In the Shadow of San Francisco 10
American Dream, Chinatown Branch 10
A "Manong" with Magical Hands 24
2 Family: From Agrarianism to Cyberspace 30
Finding Sacred Ground 30
Traditions: Old and New 45
"Rock On, Mr. President" 48
3 History: From Exclusion to Confusion 50
Conquering Frontiers and Barriers 50
Wong Is An American Name 52
The "Forgotten Holocaust" 55
Healing Wounds, or Opening Them? 57
The Price of Memories 61
4 Immigration: Huddled Masses 64
Still Searching for Gold Mountain 64
Second-Class Citizenship 67
Downsize Your SUV 69
Se Habla English 70
5 Identity and Acculturation: Visibly Invisible 73
A State of Mind 73
So That's Why I Can't Lose Weight 77
Yellow Chic 78
A Tumultuous World in Transition 80
"We Lost a Country" 82
Who's a Bonehead Now? 85
Paradise Lost 88
Minnesota Chow Mein 92
Best Friend or Best Meal? 95
Violating the Crustacean Creed 96
Parenting, Chinese Style 98
The American Nightmare 101
6 Anti-Asian Racism: Forever Foreigners 107
"The Boat People Own Everything" 107
Learning from the Vincent Chin Case 110
Escaping Racism: No Way Out 113
The Golden State of Bigotry 117
Swastikas in the Sunset 120
Un-American Christians 122
I Am a Gook 124
7 Class: Yin and Yang 126
Picking on the Most Vulnerable 126
New Global Capitalists 129
An Obnoxious Status Quest 132
The Rich Can Be Nice Too 134
Exploiting Our Own 136
8 Affirmative Action: The Myth of Meritocracy 138
Between a Rock and a Hard Place 138
Calling for Magician Administrators 143
The Selfish Versus the Altruists 145
When Value Collide 147
9 Gender: He Said, She Said 150
The "Hottest" Dating Trend 150
Special Assets 154
Hiding Behind a Cultural Defense 156
The Hero of Asian Men 159
10 Race Relations: Why Can't We All Get Along? 164
Just Who Is the Victim Here? 164
Playing Together 168
Plenty of Blame to Go Around 170
Middleman Myopia 172
Yellow Pride Versus Multiculturalism 176
Beyond Black and White 180
11 Politics: A Seat at the Table 183
Right Man, Wrong Time 183
Race and Ideology: Bumping into Each Other 186
An Asian American "Mr. Fixit" 189
Riding a Yellow Wave 194
A Common Human Affliction 198
A Question of Loyalty 200
Trolling for the Big Fish 202
Scientific Scapegoat 204
12 Crime: Bang, Bang, You're Dead 206
"It Makes You Feel Special" 206
The Model Minority Criminal 208
Born to Kill 213
Boyish Appeal 215
13 Stars: I Am Somebody 219
Colorblind Casting 219
Forbidden in More Ways Than One 223
The Connie Chung Syndrome 226
Kowtowing to the Queen 228
Disposable Commodities 233
Mercenaries 238
The Politics of a Bond Film 242
Money Talks 243
The News Media: Only Getting Part of It 245
Everybody's Child 251
Publication Credits 253
Index 259
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