Asian American Literature


Asian American Literature Essay, Research Paper

Asian Americans seem to be fighting an unwinnable battle when it comes to the content of their writing. Writers are criticized by whites for speaking out against discrimination, and by their fellow Asian Americans for contributing to the stereotypes through their silence. I believe that Asian Americans should include politics in their writing as they so choose, but should not feel obligated to do so, as Frank Chin suggests.

For those Asian Americans who make known their discontent with the injustice and discrimination that they feel, in the white culture, this translates to attacking American superiority and initiating insecurities. For Mura, a writer who dared to question why an Asian American was not allowed to audition for an Asian American role, his punishment was “the ostracism and demonization that ensued. In essence, he was shunned” (Hongo 4) by the white people who could not believe that he would attack their superior American ways. According to writers such as Frank Chin and the rest of the “Aiiieeeee!” group, the Americans have dictated Asian culture and created a perception as “nice and quiet” (Chin 1972, 18), “mama’s boys and crybabies” without “a man in all [the] males.” (Chin 1972, 24). This has become the belief of the proceeding generations of Asian Americans and therefore manifested these stereotypes.

Those authors who contest these “American made” stereotypes are said to betray the American culture and white power around them, and to be “rocking the boat” in a seemingly decent living situation. It is as though Asian Americans are succombing to the thought that America is the only place to be and that they should be grateful to live here.

On the other hand, keeping silent due to pressures from the white population means being shunned by the members of the Asian American population. I disagree with Chin’s ascertation that “years of apparent silence have made us accomplices” to the makers of stereotypes (Chin 1991, xxxix). I agree with Hongo’s argument that Chin viewpoint “limits artistic freedom” (Hongo 4). Declaring that those writers who do not argue stereotypes of the good, loyal, and feminine Chinese man or the submissive female, are in any way contributing to or disagreeing with them is ridiculous. Chin’s opinion that politics should be included in some aspect of every Asian American piece eliminates choice from writing topics for other writers. Authors are the voices of the people (whichever people they choose to represent) and should not be criticized for choosing to discuss issues other than those that Chin deems necessary.

It seems as though no matter which topic an Asian American chooses to write about or discuss, there will be someone who finds a reason to criticize in order to justify their own opinion. However, writers do not publish material that they do not believe in. It is not their duty to please critics on both sides of a controversial issue, and should therefore express their opinions without feeling obligated to include politics in their work.

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