The Loneliest Americans

“We share stereotypes.”

Discrimination is what really binds Asian-­Americans together. The early scholars of Asian-­American studies came out of the ‘‘Third World Liberation Front’’ of the late ’60s, which pushed against the Eurocentric bent of the academy. When Asian-­American-­studies programs began spreading in California in the early ’70s, their curriculums grew out of personal narratives of oppression, solidarity forged through the exhumation of common hardships. ‘‘Roots: An Asian-­American Reader,’’ one of the first textbooks offered to Asian-­American-­studies students at U.C.L.A., was published in 1971; the roots of the title referred not to some collective Asian heritage but, the editors wrote, to the ‘‘ ‘roots’ of the issues facing Asians in America.’’

Awl pal Jay Kang spent a year and a half reporting on the fraternity-hazing death of Michael Deng for the New York Times Magazine, and to great effect. The piece is as much about a true and horrifying crime as it is the meaning of the hazy term, “Asian-American.” Read the whole thing here.


Image: Luke Vu via Flickr