Asian American Is Not a Color: Conversations on Race, Affirmative Action, and Family (Hardcover)

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by Oiyan A. Poon


A mother and race scholar seeks to answer her daughter's many questions about race and racism with an earnest exploration into race relations and affirmative action from the perspectives of Asian Americans


Before being struck down by the US Supreme Court in June 2023, affirmative action remained one of the few remaining policy tools to address racial inequalities, revealing peculiar contours of racism and anti-racist strategies in America. Through personal reflective essays for and about her daughter, OiYan Poon looks at how the debate over affirmative action reveals the divergent ways Asian Americans conceive of their identity. With moving sincerity and insightful study, Poon combines extensive research with personal narratives from both herself and a diverse swath of individuals across the Asian American community to reflect on and respond to her daughter's central question: What does it mean to be Asian American?

Poon conducts interviews with Asian Americans throughout the US who have been actively engaged in policy debates over race-conscious admissions or affirmative action. Through these exchanges, she finds that Asian American identity remains deeply unsettled in a contest between those invested in reaching the top of the racial hierarchy alongside whiteness and those working toward a vision of justice and humanity co-constructed through cross-racial solidarity.


Poon uses these contrasting viewpoints to guide her conversations with her daughter, providing a heartfelt and optimistic look at how understanding the diversity and nuances of the Asian American experience can help us envision a more equitable future..

About the Author

Dr. OiYan Poon is a codirector of the College Admissions Futures Co-Laborative ( Her research agenda brings together organizational theories and race and ethnic studies to study rejective admission and selection processes, the racial politics of Asian Americans and education, and affirmative action policies. She has received grants from the Gates Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and Spencer Foundation to support her research, and her work has appeared widely in national media outlets including the New York Times, the Washington PostThe Atlantic, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the New Yorker.

Product Details

Category: Asian American Studies

Language: English

Format/Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: New

ISBN-10: 0807013625

ISBN-13: 978-0807013625

Publisher: Beacon Press

Date Published: April 30, 2024

Pages: 232

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