Five Books to Educate Yourself on Anti-Asian Racism in America

It’s a starting point

Published in
8 min readMay 2, 2020
A photo of an Asian woman reading a book at a library.
Photo: Sam Bloomberg-Rissman/Getty Images

As an Asian American teenage girl, I never saw myself in movies as the main character and rarely read books where Asian Americans were even mentioned. Asian American activist books? Even less.

I have always wanted to be better informed as a social activist, especially about issues facing Asian Americans. Asian American history is rarely taught in American K-12 classrooms. If it is, it mostly glosses over only the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and internment of Japanese Americans.

I also want to learn more to be a better ally. There is so much intersectionality in social activism, and as a woman of color, I know there is more I need to know before participating in conversations with other people of color.

There is no better time than now to get informed and to support Asian authors. With the amplified violence and hate towards Asian Americans, I decided to read more to stay informed. I read several new books and have picked out my top five recommendations that I think you should read this month.

1. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong

I have waited a long time for a book like this. Minor Feelings (2020) is brutally honest about the self-hatred some Asian Americans experience and brings validation to what we are told are “minor feelings” from this tension between the American dream and the reality Asian Americans face.

Hong, a Korean American poet and writer, truly explores the Asian American consciousness both through her essay collection and her recent New York Times article about the racism against Asians the coronavirus pandemic has unmasked. In my view, Hong discusses some hard truths about how self-hatred makes us Asians hard on ourselves. She highlights how damaging the model minority stereotype is. And how damaging it has been for other races to tell us we have nothing to be pissed about.

Hong also writes about some of her very important experiences that reminded me of…