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Asian Americans in YA Literature Stereotypes Part 2, Positive/Negative Depictions

May 9, 2007

I’ve been quite disturbed reading some of the posts on American Born Chinese featured on MySpace. How in the world do people tie together a mass murderer with a totally unrelated graphic novel? I feel bad for Gene Yang for being a public figure in this ignorant time. But as librarians I do feel it is our duty to promote better understanding and more knowledge. Perhaps if more people were exposed to people from different backgrounds and places we’d get along better. To quote Rodney King, “can we all just get along?”

More excepts from our chat:

Trisha: So are we including books in which the Asian-American isn’t a protagonist but is an important character?
Jolene: Yeah, why not? Just as long as the character is a positive rendition of Asian-Americaness.
Trisha: Does the character have to be a positive one?
Gayle: Nope I like evil Asian characters
Trisha: One of the reasons I liked Haters is because the evil bitch is Asian-American.
Gayle: Cool.
Trisha: Jessica Nguyen. Richest, prettiest girl in school, who’s also a motocross champion. And eeevil.
Jolene: I need to read that book. Angry little asian girl.
Trisha: Although her mother, at least, is an immigrant.
Jolene: Totally breaks the stereotype.
Trisha: Also Paski’s neighbor’s are a Japanese-American woman and her hapa sons (African-American father). The mother, Melanie, becomes Paski’s father’s love interest. She can speak, or at least understand, Japanese, which I found hard to believe, but at least Paski didn’t assume she spoke Japanese.

* Come back in July, when we review Haters! Can’t do it next month because we’ll be reviewing Carolyn Mackler’s upcoming book, Guyaholic.**

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