Whiter: Asian American Women on Skin Color and Colorism

New York Univ. Mar. 2020. 280p. ed. by Nikki Khanna. ISBN 9781479800292. pap. $25. SOC SCI
This collection of essays written by 30 Asian American women, and edited by Khanna (sociology, Univ. of Vermont; Biracial in America: Forming and Performing Racial Identity), raises awareness of colorism within the Asian American community. Throughout Asia, women face immense cultural expectations to gain and maintain fair skin color. While these pressures manifest themselves differently in different countries, they are generally reinforced by family, friends, media, and the wide variety of cosmetic products marketed to bleach and lighten skin. America’s own history of racism as well as culture clashes between first and later generations of immigrants, means that Americans of Asian descent have different experiences with colorism than that of Asians. These essays written by authors of various ethnicities, professions, and ages, shed light on these differences by addressing topics such as privilege, identity, and antiblackness.
VERDICT These poignant essays provide a fascinating look at the experiences of colorism by women in the Asian American community. Highly recommended for specialists and students of the subject area, yet anyone with a general interest in issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion should find this accessible.

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