Dispatches from Asian AmericaWilliam Wong
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."
"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 Wongan 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
"...an anthology of Wong's best writing from the last decade and a half, covering an impressive array of topics and tone."
"(Wong) uses essays, columns and commentaries to provide an insider's view of the mosaic of experiences of Asian Americans."
The Chicago Reporter