American Son: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Novels, Passing, United States on 2018-04-30 01:09Z by Steven

American Son: A Novel

W. W. Norton & Company
May 2001
256 pages
5.6 × 8.3 in
Paperback ISBN 978-0-393-32154-8

Brian Ascalon Roley

A powerful novel about ethnically fluid California, and the corrosive relationship between two Filipino brothers.

Told with a hard-edged purity that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson, American Son is the story of two Filipino brothers adrift in contemporary California. The older brother, Tomas, fashions himself into a Mexican gangster and breeds pricey attack dogs, which he trains in German and sells to Hollywood celebrities. The narrator is younger brother Gabe, who tries to avoid the tar pit of Tomas’s waywardness, yet moves ever closer to embracing it. Their mother, who moved to America to escape the caste system of Manila and is now divorced from their American father, struggles to keep her sons in line while working two dead-end jobs. When Gabe runs away, he brings shame and unforeseen consequences to the family. Full of the ache of being caught in a violent and alienating world, American Son is a debut novel that captures the underbelly of the modern immigrant experience.

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The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives

Posted in Dissertations, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2018-04-30 00:40Z by Steven

The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
217 pages

Amanda M. Page

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

In “The Prisms of Passing: Reading beyond the Racial Binary in Twentieth-Century U.S. Passing Narratives,” I examine a subset of racial passing narratives written between 1890 and 1930 by African American activist-authors, some directly affiliated with the NAACP, who use the form to challenge racial hierarchies through the figure of the mulatta/o and his or her interactions with other racial and ethnic groups. I position texts by Frances E.W. Harper, James Weldon Johnson, and Walter White in dialogue with racial classification laws of the period—including Supreme Court decisions, such as Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), and immigration law, such as the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924—to show how these rulings and laws were designed to consolidate white identity while preventing coalition-building among African Americans and other subordinate groups.

In contrast to white-authored passing narratives of the time, I argue that these early African American passing narratives frequently gesture toward interracial solidarity with Native American, European immigrant, Latina/o, or Asian American characters as a means of
challenging white supremacy. Yet, these authors often sacrifice the potential for antiracist coalitions because of the limitations inherent in working within the dominant racial and nativist discourses. For example, in Iola Leroy (1892), Harper, despite her racially progressive intentions, strategically deploys white nativist discourse against Native Americans to demonstrate the “Americanness” of her mulatta heroine and demand recognition of African American assimilation. Though later African American passing narratives, such as Johnson‘s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and White‘s Flight (1926), began to reflect a collaborative global approach to civil rights as the century progressed, these strategies of domestic antagonism and/or international solidarity with groups outside of the black-white binary ultimately worked in service to a specifically African American civil rights agenda.

This study concludes with an examination of a contemporary passing narrative by an Asian American author. Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son (2001) revises the form to challenge the continued marginalization of Latina/os and Asian Americans and thus suggests the need for a reconsideration of how we approach civil rights activism to accommodate new racial dynamics in the post-civil rights era.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2014-08-18 02:28Z by Steven

Passing Interest: Racial Passing in US Novels, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010

State University of New York Press
July 2014
352 pages
Hardcover ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5227-2
Electronic ISBN13: 978-1-4384-5229-6

Edited by:

Julie Cary Nerad, Associate Professor of American Literature
Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Explores how the trope of racial passing continues to serve as a touchstone for gauging public beliefs and anxieties about race in this multiracial era.

The first volume to focus on the trope of racial passing in novels, memoirs, television, and films published or produced between 1990 and 2010, Passing Interest takes the scholarly conversation on passing into the twenty-first century. With contributors working in the fields of African American studies, American studies, cultural studies, film studies, literature, and media studies, this book offers a rich, interdisciplinary survey of critical approaches to a broad range of contemporary passing texts. Contributors frame recent passing texts with a wide array of cultural discourses, including immigration law, the Post-Soul Aesthetic, contemporary political satire, affirmative action, the paradoxes of “colorblindness,” and the rhetoric of “post-racialism.” Many explore whether “one drop” of blood still governs our sense of racial identity, or to what extent contemporary American culture allows for the racially indeterminate individual. Some essays open the scholarly conversation to focus on “ethnic” passers—individuals who complicate the traditional black-white binary—while others explore the slippage between traditional racial passing and related forms of racial performance, including blackface minstrelsy and racial masquerade.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: The “Posts” of Passing / Gayle Wald
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: The (Not So) New Face of America / Julie Cary Nerad
  • 2. On the Margins of Movement: Passing in Three Contemporary Memoirs / Irina Negrea
  • 3. “A Cousin to Blackness”: Race and Identity in Bliss Broyard’s One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life / Lynn Washington and Julie Cary Nerad
  • 4. Can One Really Choose? Passing and Self-Identification at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century / Jené Schoenfeld
  • 5. Passing in Blackface: The Intimate Drama of Post-Racialism on Black. White / Eden Osucha
  • 6. Broke Right in Half: Passing of/in Alice Randall’s The Wind Done Gone / Julie Cary Nerad
  • 7. Passing for Chicano, Passing for White: Negotiating Filipino American Identity in Brian Ascalon Roley’s American Son / Amanda Page
  • 8. Race in the Marketplace: Postmodern Passing and Ali G / Ana Cristina Mendes
  • 9. Passing for Black, White, and Jewish: Mixed-Race Identity in Rebecca Walker and Danzy Senna / Lori Harrison-Kahan
  • 10. Smiling Faces: Chameleon Street, Racial Passing/Performativity, and Film Blackness / Michael B. Gillespie
  • 11. Consuming Performances: Race, Media, and the Failure of the Cultural Mulatto in Bamboozled and Erasure / Meredith McCarroll
  • Bibliography
  • Contributor Biographies
  • Index
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Writing Mixed Race Asian Americans into the Nation: Narratives of National Incorporation in the Bildungsroman and the Multiracial Movement

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2013-06-13 01:41Z by Steven

Writing Mixed Race Asian Americans into the Nation: Narratives of National Incorporation in the Bildungsroman and the Multiracial Movement

Wesleyan University
May 2013
80 pages

May Lee Watase

A thesis submitted to the faculty of Wesleyan University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts with Departmental Honors in American Studies


In spring 2011, during my sophomore year at Wesleyan, the student group I was a member of, MIX (an acronym for mixed heritage, interracial, cross-cultural), invited Ken Tanabe, a multiracial graphic designer and social activist to host a Loving Day celebration on Wesleyan’s campus. Tanabe is the founder of Loving Day, an event that celebrates interracial love, multiethnic identity, and marks the 1967 anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case that legalized interracial marriage. At our own event, Tanabe and a few other representatives of the Loving Day organization gave us Loving Day buttons, showed us a power point presentation, and chatted with us about our mixed race identities. At the end of the hour, Tanabe asked to take a picture of the group, snapping the exact moment the ten of us jumped in the air. About a month ago, two years following our celebration with Tanabe, I opened an email from the Loving Day listserv to find the following:

The Loving Day Project is pleased to announce the launch of Loving Day ON CAMPUS… a resource guide and forum to help students across the country connect, share, and inspire…Students have celebrated this important civil rights milestone in a variety of ways…We want every student and organization to have the best events possible, so we have created the Loving Day ON CAMPUS facebook page.

I clicked the link and found the picture of the Wesleyan MIX group on the Facebook page—there we all were, happy and smiling as the unofficial faces of Loving Day ON CAMPUS. I was slightly surprised to see myself there and began scrolling through the rest of the Loving Day website, becoming increasingly aware of the fact that Loving Day’s marketing strategy relied heavily on a celebratory “mixed-race” look…

In this thesis, I examine the relationship between the multiracial movement, the genre of the bildungsroman, or “coming of age novel,” and mixed race Asian American novels that are contextualized in the decade of the 1990s. The three novels I use in this study are Paper Bullets: a Fictional Autobiography, by Kip Fulbeck (2001); American Son: A Novel, by Brian Ascalon Roley (2001); and My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki (1998). I situate each novel within the rhetoric of the multiracial movement of the 1990s, which forwarded the institutionalization and legitimization of mixed race identity in American society both legally and socially, in the government, in education, and in popular culture. Each novel employs different functions of the bildungsroman, narrating the protagonists’ complex relationships with the boundaries of the nation, grappling with the notion of national belonging and validation. The bildungsroman structure and the multiracial movement both construct a progressive, teleological discourse, narrating a trajectory from exclusion and  marginality to an endpoint of inclusion within the nation as a celebratory affirmation of identity. By focusing on the ways in which these three mixed race Asian American texts subvert, manipulate, or are confined by the form of the bildungsroman and the rhetoric of the multiracial movement, I examine the pathways to inclusion in the American body politic and the positionality of the mixed race Asian American subject within and beyond the boundaries of the America. My studies of each text draw from contentious moments in the United States in the 1990s: the rhetoric of Ethnic Studies and cultural nationalism, the Rodney King beating and L.A. Riots, and the ascendancy of Asian economic power—all discourses that intervene in the narrative progress of the mixed race Asian American subject in American public discourse…

Read the entire thesis here.

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Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2012-10-12 02:38Z by Steven

Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies
Volume 3 (2012): Special Issue: Mixed Heritage Asian American Literature

Table of Contents

Read the entire issue here.

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