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YOU ARE HERE

Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 2 months, 3 weeks ago

6 December 2023 YOU ARE HERE: CONNECTING FLIGHTS edited by Ellen Oh, HarperCollins/Allida, March 2023, 272p., ISBN: 978-0-06-323908-1

 

According to Pew Research, 78% of Asian adults have been treated as a foreigner in some way, even if they are U.S. born.

 

“How can people be so heartless?

How can people be so cruel?

Easy to be hard

Easy to be cold”

– MacDermot, Rado, and Ragni (1967)

 

“As the boy walks off, he tugs at the corners of his eyes and says, ‘Kung Flu.’ All the muscles in my body stiffen.”

 

“The spike in incidents of anti-Asian discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic sparked national conversations about race and racial discrimination concerning Asian Americans. But discrimination against Asian Americans is not new. From the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, to denial of the right to become naturalized U.S. citizens until the 1940s, to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, to backlash against Muslims, Sikhs and South Asians after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, most Asian Americans have faced discrimination and exclusion while being treated as foreigners throughout their long history in the United States.”

– “Discrimination Experiences Shape Most Asian Americans’ Lives” pewresearch.org  (11/30/2023)

 

“Someone shouts at the security screening, and even the Jamba employees look and whisper.

Eventually everything dies down, and people come through the checkpoint again. Daddy Brian, inquisitive as ever, waves over the first family.

‘Hey, what happened back there?’ he asks. ‘Was there some kind of threat?’

A blonde woman in a pink sweater stops, looking totally frazzled. ‘Yes, it was foreigners–Asians. Trying to smuggle something through. Hopefully, they go back to their own country and stay there.’

I stand like a statue, totally frozen as each word hits me.

Asians. Own country. Stay there.”

 

“Uncle Jack disappeared, leaving Lee to stare as the screen changed from the call log to his home screen of a vertical fretboard. After thirty seconds, it dimmed to half brightness before disappearing completely, only his reflection staring back.

Asian eyes. Asian skin. Asian hair.

That is what people saw. Not the guitar, not the player. Even if he could rock the most difficult song of all time.

Why should he even bother if no one ever saw him as a guitarist?”

 

“Beth beamed. ‘You think so? I was thinking I could buy most of the pieces, but I could probably knit my own scarf, right? Then maybe I could dye my hair black, but I wasn’t sure how to do the eyes.’

The Weird Feeling hit Natalie like a whirlwind. (A torpedoed feeling, a sinking-ship feeling.) ‘The eyes?’ she repeated, hoping she hadn’t heard her right.

‘Yeah, the eyes.’ Briefly, Beth put her fingertips to her temples. She frowned thoughtfully. ‘I wonder what white actors do, you know, when they want to look Asian?’

Natalie didn’t know why, but the thought of Beth Martin taping the corners of her eyes gave her a food-poisoning feeling, like when you didn’t know what you ate, but your insides knew it was bad as soon as it hit your stomach, and they started to turn inside out just to get rid of it.”

 

Moving and eye-opening, YOU ARE HERE features a dozen seamlessly-intertwined tales of Asian-AMERICAN young people facing racist words, deeds, and sentiments, during an extra-busy day of inclement weather and delayed flights at a major Chicago airport. Written by a star-studded roster of children’s and YA authors of Asian heritage, it is fun and fascinating to see multiple perspectives of the young characters, both when they are the focus of one of the interconnected stories, and when they then subsequently pop up, or literally run into one another, in another one of the stories.

 

What is particularly eye-opening–as depicted here–is that the perpetrator of racist sentiments is quite often a clueless friend or relative.

 

“Using a series of surveys, online search trends and consumer traffic data, we find that Asian restaurants experienced an 18.4% decrease in traffic (estimated US$7.42 billion lost revenue in 2020) relative to comparable non-Asian restaurants, with greater decreases in areas with higher levels of support for Donald Trump.”

– Nature.com “The cost of anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic” (1/19/2023)

 

In so many instances, reading diverse children’s books provides enlightenment that leads young readers to distance themselves from the ignorance displayed by parents and friends, and the false, oft-incendiary claims put forth by divisive public figures. 

 

In YOU ARE HERE, editor Ellen Oh, who co-founded the decade-old advocacy group “We Need Diverse Books,” has herself coordinated the creation of the kind of engaging, diverse book that will promote understanding and could, quite easily, save a life. 

 

Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com

https://www.facebook.com/richiespicks/    

richiepartington@gmail.com  

 

 

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