Here’s a list of frequently challenged books in 1990-2000 by authors of color. Names of the writers whose books have been banned in the past decade: Isabel Allende, Rudolfo Anaya, Maya Angelou, Mark Mathabane, Toni Morrison, Walter D. Myers, Luis Rodriquez, Alice Walker, and Richard Wright. Here’s the Top 100 list of books banned or challenged in general. This provides a nutshell summary of book banning in the West. In 2007, Walker’s The Color Purple, Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and even my personal favorite, Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower were all challenged as inappropriate reading material for high school students.
The Asian Diaspora has been firmly rooted in the West for centuries. And yet not a single APA writer appears on any of the aformentioned listings of banned books. No one is going to ban Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, David Henry Hwang, Gish Jen, Chang-rae Lee, or the new arrival Min Jin Lee. If put to the task, I’d figure Alexander Chee, Frank Chin, and Evelyn Lau might be banned, but they haven’t been. Why? Because few people outside the APA readership community has even heard of these writers.
If political change is what you’re after, the first thing you need to get done is have a book written by an APA writer be banned in schools. Until we’ve been banned by high schoools across middle America, we haven’t really made our mark yet in American letters.