Synopses & Reviews
A narrative history of the movement that turned “Orientals” into Asian Americans
Until the political ferment of the Long Sixties, there were no Asian Americans. There were only isolated communities of mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos lumped together as “Orientals.” Serve the People tells the story of the social and cultural movement that knit these disparate communities into a political identity, the history of how — and why — the double consciousness of Asian America came to be.
At the same time, Karen Ishizuka’s vivid narrative reveals the personal epiphanies and intimate stories of insurgent movers and shakers and ground-level activists alike. 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 in black and white, and recalls the intricate memories and meanings of the Asian American movement. Serve the People paints a panoramic landscape of a radical time, and is destined to become the definitive history of the making of Asian America.
“We weren’t born ‘Asian American.’ It’s a political identity, forged in the fires of struggle, community and consciousness. Serve the People chronicles the hard-fought history of a new awareness — the story of how we became Asian America.” Phil Yu, Angry Asian Man
“Foundational for understanding the development of Asian American consciousness as relevant identity for political work and organizing in the context of a decade of Civil Rights work we typically think of as dominated by African American and gender organizing.” Melissa Harris-Perry, Elle
“Serve the People describes beautifully not merely the making of a people but an entire era. People of color, women, queer people, students, and the working class altered US history by making the nation more democratic and aware of its imperialism. This is a work of immense significance.”
Gary Y. Okihiro, author of American History Unbound: Asians and Pacific Islanders
About the Author
Karen L. Ishizuka is a third-generation American of Japanese descent who was part of the Asian American movement in Los Angeles. She is the author of Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration, as well as many published articles, and coeditor of Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories. An award-winning documentary film producer and museum curator, she helped establish the Japanese American National Museum and received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.