Senior Editor Bridget Flannery-McCoy has acquired World rights, including audio, to Ellen Wu’s Overrepresented: The Surprising Story of Asian Americans and Racial Justice. Sandra Dijkstra handled the deal.
Overrepresented will offer readers a deep dive into the history of how “minority” rights have both strengthened and fractured ties between Asian Americans and other people of color—and divided the Asian American community itself. Fifty years ago, American youth of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinx ancestry launched the Asian American Movement. Inspired by Black Power and anti-war demonstrations, Asian American activists championed solidarity with “Third World” communities everywhere and sought to forge a unity based on shared experiences of systemic racism. When civil rights reforms and the rise of affirmative action opened up new opportunities for minorities in the 1960s and 70s, Asian Americans fought to be included.
But aligning with Black and Brown activists would not be straightforward. Asian Americans, pigeonholed as exceptional achievers, failed to secure widespread recognition as a “disadvantaged” racial group; they were seen as already “over-represented” in elite institutions, with no need for active interventions. Such dismissals glossed over the persistence of anti-Asian hostility as well as historical differences and socio-economic disparities among Asian American populations.
The result has been a significant fissure among Asian Americans. A vocal faction has accused Harvard, Yale, and other selective schools of discriminating against Asian applicants and has joined with white conservatives to undercut affirmative action in university admissions. Yet many Asian Americans remained dedicated to making common cause with Black and Brown communities. New polling shows that Asian Americans as a group have been one of the most positively swayed by the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. In this unexpected account of racial justice, Wu demonstrates how much we miss when we see race as a fixed and predictable category, and illuminates the central role Asian Americans have played in the civil rights battles that have defined the nation.
Overrepresented is slated for publication in 2023.
About the Author
Ellen Wu is an Associate Professor in the Department of History; Director of the Asian American Studies Program; and Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society at Indiana University Bloomington. She is the author of The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton). You can find her on Twitter @ellendwu