Funny that in the same week I found two websites that profiled and/or incorporated my comments into an article; actually, I didn’t find them myself. A friend saw my profile on iamkoreanamerican.com (they requested my participation so I submitted a profile, but was not notified that it was approved and posted!) and the St Kate PR folks found an article from Sept 23, 2009 that quoted me (from a questionnaire I filled out a couple months ago for the publisher, Lee & Low).
Paula Yoo’s Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story is an important contribution to children’s literature (not just Asian American children’s literature) because it debunks the simplistic notion that Anna May Wong was nothing more than an Asian fetish for the white American male. Paula writes about the anxiety and discomfort that Anna May Wong experienced as a minority actress in a majority white environment — an environment that continues to misrepresent and exploit the work and talents of Asian American performers. Asian women are often sexually exploited and Asian men are made effeminate and impotent; hardly desirable roles in mainstream media. Anyway, Anna May Wong may have started out in roles that were less than ideal, but as she progressed in her career she was able to be pickier about how she chose to represent the Asian diaspora.
The goal of the iamkoreanamerican.com project is to “compile a collection of profiles that showcase the diversity and many interesting personalities of the Korean American population. We hope that our collective efforts will provide a snapshot of the Korean American community at this point in our history.” It’s been really neat to read about so many different Korean Americans in different places, and also to think about how the intersection of our identities and experiences have all brought us to this website.
All that to say YAY for raising awareness about Asian American children’s books that raise awareness about important Asian Americans, and for projects that interrogate and showcase the complexity of the Korean diaspora!