Cover

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Title page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Foreword

Frank H. Wu

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pp. ix-xiv

I wish I could have read this book when I was growing up in the Detroit metropolitan area in the 1970s. I had no idea that other Asian Americans even existed, never mind having any conception of what it meant to be a member of such a community. Ironically, the very term Asian American probably would...

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Preface

Sook Wilkinson

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pp. xv-xvi

The year 2012 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the racially motivated killing of Chin, which occurred during a time of economic recession in the Detroit automobile industry. Chin, a Chinese American, was mistaken for Japanese by two autoworkers who brutally clubbed him to death as retribution for...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xviii

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Introduction

Victor Jew

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pp. 1-8

Asian Americans in Michigan guides readers through some uncharted territory, a landscape that possesses some familiar landmarks but has remained mostly obscured. This terrain is not topographical but social: the world of Asian Americans living in Michigan in the early twenty-first century. The volume’s contributors...

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Part I: Taking Soundings of Asian America in Michigan

Victor Jew

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pp. 9-11

They say there is a complicated and unseen landscape underneath Lake Michigan. Since the nineteenth century, scientists have measured that invisible world by producing bathygrams, the technical term for a graph of underwater soundings. With those, they have been able to tell us that beneath the waters...

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1. A Demographic Portrait of Asian Americans in Michigan

Kurt R. Metzger

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pp. 12-19

From 2000 to 2010, the total Asian population in the United States increased from 11.9 million to 17.3 million.1 This 45.6 percent increase in population resulted in the Asian share of the country’s total population rising from 4.2 percent to 5.6 percent...

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2. Asian Americans and Michigan: A Long Transnational Legacy

Victor Jew

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pp. 20-49

Michigan has never lacked for histories or historians. As I walk past the shelves of Michigan history and Michigania in a neighboring Great Lakes historical society library, I cannot help but be impressed by how the state has preserved its past and told its stories. By my reckoning, as I count eight...

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3. “Tell ’Em You’re from Detroit”: Chinese Americans in the Model City

Chelsea Zuzindlak

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pp. 50-69

It is easy to infer that there was once a Chinatown in Detroit. It is not so easy, however, to flesh out the details and make it real. On the surface, the elements of every American Chinatown are here—fixtures with Chinese lettering, curved roofs, and neon signs for Cantonese cuisine...

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4. “Ambassadors” in the Heartland: Asian American Racial and Regional Identity Formations in Michigan

Barbara W. Kim

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pp. 70-98

In “Critical Legal Studies, Asian Americans in U.S. Law and Culture, Neil Gotanda, and Me” (1997), legal scholar and artist Keith Aoki evoked time, demographic concentration, and space to contextualize the relationship between racial/ethnic identities and processes of marginalization...

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5. Genealogy of a Detroit Childhood

Min Hyoung Song

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pp. 99-116

In 1975 my family immigrated to Detroit from Seoul. I was five years old. After a period of struggle, as my parents sought shelter and took on a variety of working- class jobs, my father landed a slot as an assembly line worker at a General Motors plant. It was difficult, tedious work that could often be...

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Part II: Legacy Keeping and Memory Keepers

Victor Jew

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pp. 117-119

A resident of Michigan since the 1940s, Toshiko Shimoura has a lot to remember. The story of her life is a transcript of how large-scale events shaped lives, both her own and those of many Asian Americans during the Second World War and after. Shimoura was not born in Michigan. She grew up near...

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6. The Making of an Asian American Detroiter

Grace Lee Boggs

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pp. 120-130

When I came to Detroit from New York in 1953, I had no idea that I would still be here more than fifty years later, still working at the age of ninety plus to transform Detroit into a twenty-first-century city with a thriving local economy and diverse and lively communities...

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7. Three Legacy Keepers: The Voices of Chinese, Korean, and Indo-American Michiganders

Tai Chan, Tukyul Andrew Kim, Kul B. Gauri

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pp. 131-141

The first Chinese lived in Michigan in the mid-1800s. Early immigrants were not organized for the most part, tending to focus on their own family businesses or their employers. Nonetheless, George Lim Poy, president of the Four Seas Club in Detroit, recalled a fund-raiser at a Chinese restaurant...

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8. The History of Nikkei (Japanese) in Detroit

Toshiko Shimoura

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pp. 142-148

At a time when most Japanese were seeking their American dream on the West Coast and in Hawaii, there was a small influx of Japanese into the Detroit area. The turn of the twentieth century witnessed the first arrival of youthful, entrepreneurial Japanese to the state of Michigan...

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9. From Hammered-Down Nail to Squeaky Cog: The Modern Japanese American Experience in Detroit

Asae Shichi

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pp. 149-162

Thirty years ago, cross-cultural differences were not well understood by the general American population. In the economic slump of the early 1980s, especially in Michigan’s regional economy, where the American automotive industry was losing its competitive edge to Japanese automakers...

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10. Bangladeshis in Hamtramck

Durriya Meer

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pp. 163-169

In order to understand the Bengalis of Bangladesh, it is necessary to give a brief sociopolitical and geopolitical history. Bangladesh, literally the land of Bengal, is in its most basic form the product of the British colonizers of the Indian subcontinent and their motto: Divide...

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11. A Brief History of Filipino Americans in Michigan

Emily P. Lawsin, Joseph A. Galura

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pp. 170-176

Despite a history of more than one hundred years in Michigan and over four hundred years on the U.S. continent, very few people know about the Filipino American experience. This chapter aims to offer a brief introductory overview of the history of Filipinos in Michigan...

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Part III: Culture and Heritage

Sachi Koto

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pp. 177-179

As a third-generation Japanese American, I find a deep sense of commonality with the writers of these chapters in part 3 pertaining to culture and heritage. They remain closely connected to their Asian roots, though removed by thousands of miles and perhaps generations from where their...

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12. How to Cook Like a Banana

Anna M. Shih

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pp. 180-184

I’m making something different for dinner tonight: Chinese food. Chicken and broccoli stir-fry with garlic sauce sounds like a good, healthy meal after a weekend of errand running.
When people learn I enjoy cooking, they invariably glance at my slanted...

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13. My Mother and the Kimchee Jar

Kook-Wha Koh

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pp. 185-188

From 1973 to 1996, my mother stayed with us in America. She helped take care of her four grandchildren and prepared authentic Korean food for us. In making our meals, she strictly followed the traditional ways she had been taught by her mother and her grandmother. She did not want to adjust her...

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14. Going Back to Chinese School

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

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pp. 189-196

I cannot believe that I am going to Chinese school again. It’s been fifteen years since I finally graduated from San Jose Chinese Language School. Now I find myself sitting at the back of my four-year-old’s preschool class at the Ann Arbor Chinese Center of Michigan. I’m furiously scribbling down...

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15. Mediating through Memory: The Hmong in Michigan

Jeffrey Vang

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pp. 197-212

Where do the Hmong come from? It is believed that the Hmong, known as Miao to the Chinese, lived prosperously in southwestern China for several thousand years.1 They had their own kingdom, rules, and written language. They fought off the Chinese for many centuries, but eventually...

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Part IV: Life Journeys

Pratyusha Tummala-Narra

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pp. 213-215

The life experiences of Asian Americans have remained largely invisible to non-Asians living in the United States and elsewhere. The myth of the “model minority” that has been routinely applied to various Asian groups in the United States has contributed to a silencing of the complexity...

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16. Growing Up in Michigan

Lawrence G. Almeda

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pp. 216-221

My palms began to sweat as I realized the magnitude of the embarrassment about to befall me. Mrs. Saucer, my first-grade teacher, had decided to try a lousy gimmick to get us lined up single file for gym class. As she tried to guess what the kids had had for breakfast, I felt strangely alone...

17. Shoveling and Heaving: Michigan’s Manangs and Manongs

Emily P. Lawsin

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pp. 222-224

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18. Adoption as Crucible

Jen Hilzinger

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pp. 225-232

My husband and I adopted two children, one from China and one from Korea. We are Caucasian. We’re often approached by strangers with questions, usually Caucasians but sometimes folks of other ethnicities. “Is her father Chinese?” “Yes,” I respond and quickly walk away, lost in a reverie...

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19. The Long Homecoming: Being Chinese and American in Michigan

Katherine M. Lee

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pp. 233-237

I was born in Hong Kong. My father left to come to Detroit in 1951 before I was born. He left behind a beautiful young wife, pregnant with me then, and a sweet two-year-old, my sister. My father worked hard for long hours, enduring many lonely nights, so he could save enough money to bring us to...

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20. My Family’s Experience of the Japanese American Internment Camps

Dylan Sugiyama

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pp. 238-245

To my father, Curt Sugiyama, and to my aunts, Mickey Murata and Nen Mishima, who are this essay’s inspiration and its true authors.
When I was finally old enough to understand what my relatives were referring to when they talked about “the camp,” I asked my father what living in...

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21. Growing Up Hapa in Ann Arbor

Lynet Uttal

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pp. 246-251

Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1967. “Red China! Red China! Red China!” My secondgrade classmates are chasing me around the playground during recess screaming these words at me. I veer right off the playground and head home, running as fast as my feet will carry my eight-year-old body away from...

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22. The Apology

Catherine Chung

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pp. 252-256

My whole class is running like crazy, racing from the playground to the bench outside our school where we line up after recess every day. Until now, I’ve always run as part of the pack. But this time, my feet pounding the pavement, I know I’ve got a chance—that today’s the day I’ll find out just how fast I am...

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23. Cars, Prejudice, and God

Kyo Takahashi

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pp. 257-270

I have been fascinated with cars for a long time. No, I’ve never dreamed of owning a luxurious automobile or a high-performance sports model. For me the allure is drawing beautiful cars of any type, even an economy vehicle or a monstrous industrial bulldozer. It never mattered. I wanted an artistic career...

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24. A Journey Begins on April 30, 1975: Being Vietnamese American in Michigan

Mimi Doan-Trang Nguyen

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pp. 271-277

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and the path of my journey to America began with a series of unfortunate events beginning on April 30, 1975. The significance of this date in Vietnamese history was when South Vietnam collapsed at the hands of the Communists, who took over...

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25. A Strange Land

Elaine Lok

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pp. 278-279

I’m not exactly a person with close ties to my family. In fact, I’ve never been intimate with any of my relatives. So it’s quite ironic that I chose vintage family photos as a basis for this project—a project that, in the end, is the only avenue of profound communication between them and me...

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26. Day Remembered

Ti-Hua Chang

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pp. 280-282

Days pass into months, months into years so quickly. That is what my older friends tell me; that is what I have come to learn myself as I age. One day can be like any other, all so similar we cannot remember them as distinct entities. Days are forgotten unless something happens...

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Part V: Contemporary Prospects and Voices of the Future

Christine Chen

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pp. 283-285

This final part does two jobs. First, it looks at two contemporary sites that can help build a different Asian American future in Michigan: higher education and political involvement. Second, it listens to voices that represent the future of Michigan and its Asian American populations. Dr. Leslie E. Wong writes his...

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27. Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education in Michigan

Leslie E. Wong, Brianna Reckeweg

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pp. 286-294

To address Asian Pacific American experiences in higher education in Michigan, one must first understand the context of Asian Pacific Americans (APA) in society at the national level. To achieve this understanding is to confront a complex and multilayered puzzle. One layer involves ethnicities...

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28. Political Engagement of Michigan Asian Americans

Sook Wilkinson

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pp. 295-302

In 2009 the first permanent Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) was established through a legislative process to serve the state and its 292,500 Asian Pacific Americans. This essay tells the story of why and how the commission was created and describes its contribution to the state...

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29. Arirang

Kira A. Donnell

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pp. 303-309

There is confidential material in my file. Proof that a history, deeply rooted somewhere here in this rice-paddied soil, exists before my migration to America. But Korea seems determined to keep me an outcast. There are so many rules, and one is that queries from Korea’s banished children have no...

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30. Five Seconds

Sheila Xiong

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pp. 310-312

I take the last of what is left in the gallon jug of water, which fills my cup halfway. I drink it all in one gulp and sit down. I turn on the TV and flip through the channels quickly, paying no attention to what is on the screen. For some reason, I feel remotely calm, as though I have somehow escaped reality...

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31. A Search for Hyerim

Rachel Hyerim Sisco

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pp. 313-318

Only a few days ago, an old high school friend stopped me on the University of Michigan diag with the grandiose exclamation, “Well, if it isn’t Miss Jones herself!” I was immediately swept up into a flurry of hugs and loving ribpokes. Had it been someone else, someone who knew that I had...

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32. Politics Runs in the Family

Samir Singh

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pp. 319-324

It wasn’t a big surprise when I told my parents that I was going to run for a seat on the East Lansing City Council during my senior year at Michigan State University. My family has a history of being involved in politics in India. My grandfather served as the high commissioner to Fiji, Tonga, and Nauru...

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33. Unconscious and Unrecognized

Emily Hsiao

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pp. 325-330

I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I have attended the Ann Arbor Public Schools all my life. We like to think of ourselves as diverse in our schools. After all, Ann Arbor has the reputation of a progressive city. It is the home of the University of Michigan, which boasts a large number of international...

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Afterword

Bich Minh Nguyen

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pp. 331-334

My story echoes many in these pages. On April 29, 1975, when I was eight months old, my family fled Saigon as refugees and eventually ended up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I grew up in a predominantly white area where the standards of beauty, normality, and acceptance were represented...

Appendix: Milestones of Asian Americans in the United States

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pp. 335-340

Suggestions for Further Reading

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pp. 341-344

Contributors

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pp. 345-354

Index

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pp. 355-374