‘Serve the People’ Tells How ‘Orientals’ Became Asian Americans


karen ishizuka bookUntil the late 1960s and 1970s, there were no Asian Americans. There were only isolated communities of mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos lumped together as “Orientals.”

Karen Ishizuka’s new book, “Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties,” tells the history of how and why the double consciousness of Asian America came to be. It will be released by Verso Books on March 1.

Karen Ishizuka

Karen Ishizuka

Ishizuka’s vivid narrative reveals the personal insights and intimate stories of movers and shakers as well as ground-level activists. Drawing on more than 120 interviews and illustrated with striking images from guerrilla movement publications, the book evokes the feeling of growing up alien in a society rendered only in black and white, and recalls the intricate memories and meanings of the Asian American Movement.

The foreword was written by Jeff Chang, author of “Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America.”

Attorney Dale Minami, co-founder of the Asian Law Caucus, said, “Karen Ishizuka has opened a window to an ignored but significant part of American history. I love the captivating cartoons, newspaper and arts sections, but what really enlivens her narrative and adds depth to her work is her personal relationship to this history.”

Warren Furutani, a longtime educator and activist who is in the running for California state senator, said, “As an active participant of the Asian American Movement, I am excited about Karen Ishizuka’s book. It is written by someone who was there, not from the outside looking in.”

“Angry Asian Man” blogger Phil Yu said, “‘Serve the People’ chronicles the hard-fought history of a movement, neither black nor white, but a new awareness — the story of how we became Asian America.”

Ishizuka is a Sansei who was part of the Asian American Movement in Los Angeles. She is the author of “Lost & Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration” and was the keynote speaker at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute’s Day of Remembrance on Feb. 27. She will also be honored by the Japanese American National Museum, along with Robert A. Nakamura, for their contributions to the museum at its Gala Dinner on March 19.

Ishizuka will speak about “Serve the People” at UCLA on April 20 with noted historian Diane C. Fujino and at JANM on June 18 with a panel of activists Furutani, Mike Murase and Qris Yamashita, who are in the book, as well as younger activist traci kato-kiriyama.

For information on ordering the book online, go to: www.versobooks.com/books/1899-serve-the-people



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