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Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now

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A magical tour through the past three decades (and more) of Asian American history and culture, a journey of sweat, tears, sacrifice, inspiration, disappointments, innovation and breaking through. Chock full of discoveries and hidden histories, told with a visual panache that keeps us turning pages, Rise is a celebration and revelation, a vastly important American story, and undeniably a blast to read.


One of Barnes and Noble's Best History Books of 2022 * Finalist for the CALIBA Golden Poppy Award * A Goodreads Readers Choice Nominee

"Hip, entertaining...imaginative."—Kirkus, starred review * "Essential." —Min Jin Lee * "A Herculean effort."—Lisa Ling * "A must-read."—Ijeoma Oluo * "Get two copies."—Shea Serrano * "A bo2ok we've needed for ages." —Celeste Ng * "Accessible, informative, and fun." —Cathy Park Hong * "This book has serious substance...Also, I'm in it."—Ronny Chieng

RISE is a love letter to and for Asian Americans—a vivid scrapbook of voices, emotions, and memories from an era in which our culture was forged and transformed, and a way to preserve both the headlines and the intimate conversations that have shaped our community into who we are today.

When the Hart-Celler Act passed in 1965, opening up US immigration to non-Europeans, it ushered in a whole new era. But even to the first generation of Asian Americans born in the US after that milestone, it would have been impossible to imagine that sushi and boba would one day be beloved by all, that a Korean boy band named BTS would be the biggest musical act in the world, that one of the most acclaimed and popular movies of 2018 would be Crazy Rich Asians, or that we would have an Asian American Vice President. And that’s not even mentioning the creators, performers, entrepreneurs, execs and influencers who've been making all this happen, behind the scenes and on the screen; or the activists and representatives continuing to fight for equity, building coalitions and defiantly holding space for our voices and concerns. And still: Asian America is just getting started.

The timing could not be better for this intimate, eye-opening, and frequently hilarious guided tour through the pop-cultural touchstones and sociopolitical shifts of the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and beyond. Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, and Philip Wang chronicle how we’ve arrived at today’s unprecedented diversity of Asian American cultural representation through engaging, interactive infographics (including a step-by-step guide to a night out in K-Town, an atlas that unearths historic Asian American landmarks, a handy “Appreciation or Appropriation?” flowchart, and visual celebrations of both our "founding fathers and mothers" and the nostalgia-inducing personalities of each decade), plus illustrations and graphic essays from major AAPI artists, exclusive roundtables with Asian American cultural icons, and more, anchored by extended insider narratives of each decade by the three co-authors. Rise is an informative, lively, and inclusive celebration of both shared experiences and singular moments, and all the different ways in which we have chosen to come together.

ISBN-13: 9780358508090

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 03-01-2022

Pages: 496

Product Dimensions: 7.70(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

JEFF YANG has been observing, exploring, and writing about the Asian American community for over thirty years. He launched one of the first Asian American national magazines, A. Magazine, in the late '90s and early 2000s, and now writes frequently forCNN, Quartz, Slateand elsewhere. He has written/edited three books—Jackie Chan’s New York Times-best-selling memoir I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action; Once Upon a Time in China, a history of the cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Mainland; and Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. PHIL YU is the founder and editor of the popular Asian American news and culture blog, Angry Asian Man, which has had a devoted following since 2001. His commentary has been featured and quoted in the The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles, CA. PHILIP WANG is the co-founder of the hugely influential production company Wong Fu Productions. Since the mid 2000s, his creative work has garnered over 3 million subscribers and half a billion views online, as well as recognition from NPR and CNN for its impact on Asian American representation. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Table of Contents

Introduction viii


Before: An Essay Jeff Yang 1

Who's Asian American? 10

When Inclusion Can Turn into Erasure 16

The Asian American Syllabus: 1980s and Before 19

Undercover Asians: 1980s and Before 23

Original Synth: The Anthems of Young Asian America 26

Twelve Court Cases That Shaped Asian America 28

The Propaganda Family Tree 32

Why Vincent Chin Still Matters 34

How to Yellowface 36

Yellowface: In the Beginning 37

Miss Saigon, but Not Forgotten 41

The Miss Saigon Family Tree 44

The Asian American Playlist: 1980s and Before 46

Where the Heart Is: Asian Ethnic Enclaves 49

Asian American Atlas 56

Founding Fathers and Mothers: 1980s and Before 60

Stuff Asians Like 62


The 1990s: An Essay Jeff Yang 65

Asian Americans on Campus 80

The Asian American Syllabus: 1990s 84

Sa-I-Gu 1992: Remembering the Los Angeles Riots 87

The Long Dark Shadow of "Me Love You Long Time" 93

Asian American Food Glow Up 94

Asian Americans Dot Com 96

How to "AZN" 100

Asian Avenue, Annotated 103

The Style List: 1990s 106

Generasian Gap: 1990s 108

Speed Racers 110

The Asian American Playlist: The 1990s 114

Setting Sail on the Love Boat 118

Spaces: Asian Home 120

Boba Triumphant 124

The Joy Luck Club Remembered 126

How the Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema Gave Us Hope 133

Bollywood Saved Us 136

Awesome Asian Bad Guys 140

Reflections on Mulan 142

After Connie 147

When Asian American Indie Features Suddenly Mattered 150

It All Began with Margaret Cho 152

What's Funny?: 1990s 157

The Asian American Yearbook: The 1990s 158

Spaces: Asian Grocery Store 160

Founding Fathers and Mothers: 1990s 164

Anime of the People 166

Yellowface in the 1990s 170

DISGRASIAN: 1990s 172

Undercover Asians: 1990s 174

RISE: A Poem 176


The 2000s: An Essay Phil Yu 181

Suburbasia 196

"Dis-Spelled" 198

Spaces: The Boba Shop 200

The Asian American Syllabus: 2000s 205

9/11: Remembering a Tragedy and the Dark Days That Followed 209

Spin Doctors: How Filipino American DJs Turned the Tables on Hip-Hop 214

Stepping into the Cypher: Asian American Rappers 217

MC Jin's Greatest Spits 221

The Trials of Dr. Wen Ho Lee 224

Tomorrow Never Dies 226

Animasians: The Cartoon Characters That Shaped Our Kidhood 234

Harold and Kumar 239

Spaces: The Asian American Film Festival 240

Elevated or Appropriated? 246

"Asian Night": The Asian Party Scene 248

The Style List: 2000s 252

Generasian Gap: 2000s 254

The Asian American Reality TV Hall of Fame 257

William Hung Does Not Need Your Sympathy 261

The Asian American Playlist: The 2000s 263

Bhangra Is the Beat 267

The Dance Crew Revolution]p270

Tops of the Tube: Pioneers of Asian American YouTube 272

The Musicians: A YouTube Playlist 275

Founding Fathers and Mothers: 2000s 276

The Do-Over 278

Spaces: Finding Our Religion 280

What's Funny: The 2000s 285

The Wonderful World of White Saviors 286

Yellowface in the 2000s 289

The Asian American Yearbook: The 2000s 292

DISGRASIAN: 2000s 294

Undercover Asians: 2000s 298


The 2010s: An Essay Philip Wang 301

The Asian American Playlist: The 2010s 315


Remembering Linsanity 322

The Asian American Syllabus: 2010s 326

Tops of the Tube: Asian American YouTube Crosses Over 330

The Seven Stages of PSY 334

Clawing Back at Tiger Mom 335

This Isn't Even My Final Form: The Evolution of Asian Memes 338

Appreciation or Appropriation? 342

Hallyu Like Me Now 344

Generasian Gap: 2010s 346

The Style List: 2010s 348

Asians All the Rave 350

Spaces: A Night in Koreatown 352

LOVE, Asian American Style 356

What's Funny?: 2010s 359

The FAQ About Apu 362

#StarringJohnCho 365

Fresh Off the Boat: A Retrospective 368

Three Kings 382

The Road to Crazy Rich Asians 388

Spaces: University Culture Fest 392

Founding Fathers and Mothers: 2010s 396

Asian Celebrity Chefs 398

The Asian American Yearbook: The 2010s 402

Gaming While Asian 404

Coming Out in Public 406


Undercover Asians: 2010s 410

Yellowface in the 2010s 412

It's a Bird … It's a Plane … It's Asian Superheroes 414


Beyond: An Essay Jeff Yang Phil Yu Philip Wang 419

Black and Asian: A Conversation 425

After "Asian August": A Conversation 430

Spaces: Life During COVID 432

The Essential Awkwafina 12-Pack 440

Tomorrow, the World: Talking with the Founders of Subtle Asian Traits 442

BTS: Inside the American ARMY 445

She, Rose: An Interview with Kelly Marie Tran 448

The Math of Andrew Yang 452

A Sign of Things to Come 454

It's an Honor Just to Be Sandra: An Interview with Sandra Oh 458

The First Action Hero 462

Afterword 466

Contributors 468

Acknowledgments 471

Index 472

Credits 484