The Collective: Don Lee and Asian America

Melody Erhuy (originally posted on 03/16/2013).

Don Lee’s The Collective was more relatable than I thought it would be. Not identifying as an Asian American, I thought that this novel would be a good novel, but not one I can find myself in. By following Eric, the narrator, through the course of the novel, I was able to find commonalities with some of the characters. Moreover, the most relatable and interesting things I found in this work was the writing itself – Lee’s choices in wording and introducing plot lines was intriguing for me as a Literary Journalism major.

Beginning with Joshua’s suicide, Lee chooses to write plainly about his death. Not vying for emotion in his hook, the author uses unexpected words to describe Joshua’s death in a brief manner. “[…] The man and the little girl were slowly dying inside the car. Joshua was luckier, if one could call it that. He landed on his head on the asphalt, and the blunt-force trauma to his brain killed him instantly.” (14) The choice of using words like lucky, joy, and relief lighten the mood of the introduction, illuminating suicide as a stressless option in life. This disillusionment shows more about Joshua – his character is perplexed, one who portrays an exterior that is much different, almost opposite, to his interior (like showcasing suicide as relief instead of a tragedy).

I also appreciated how Lee gave women so much unexpected power in The Collective. Normally powerless, women are generally the damsels in distress instead of the assertive decision-makers. Jessica, however, breaks those boundaries of the atypical woman: “‘Let’s just fuck,’ she said. ‘What?’ ‘Let’s just do it once and get it over with. […] Do you need more foreplay? More courting and romancing?'” (131-132) Women are usually the ones who are courted, wined and dined in today’s society, and appease to every romantic cliche imaginable. Men are seen in society as the less romantic types, the ones who have their eyes constantly on the prize waiting for them in the bedroom. I appreciated this reversal of roles, the woman as the sexual-eyed partner trying to entice the male, as it not only breaks down Asian American stereotypes, but gender roles and assumptions as well. This strong female lead was interesting to see as it was unexpected (in a good way), and qualities such as these made me connect and appreciate this novel for more than just a good storyline.

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Queer Identification in Asian American Media

Melody Erhuy (originally posted on 03/08/2013).

In the movie PIRATED!, the filmmaker strewed many unrelated images with one another, all inverted with various treatments and given different soundtracks, to create a cohesive piece that makes a statement. Much like an author who foreshadows his events by repeating similar imagery through their text, the filmmaker creates an elusive narrative through the repetition of certain images. From a young Asian boy running along the beach to sexualized shots of queer sailors, the filmmaker gave the audience a deeper look into his mind, having the film flow as if someone was trailing in deep thought on their own. The stream of consciousness take on portraying his queerness was an effective way of telling his story; by showing uncomfortable imagery of sailors giving blow-jobs to one another, the viewer becomes alert and intrigued. I thought this could be a tactic to have the viewer ease into the subject matter – by reverting from uncomfortable imagery to quiet scenes of a young boy on a hammock or running along the sand, the viewer is eased into the subject matter. Almost as if the filmmaker is rocking a baby to sleep, the slow introduction of his subject to the viewer, going out and in from shot to shot almost as if in the act of intercourse,  helps the audience becomes more comfortable with what they are seeing. Perhaps this was the filmmaker’s intention, to introduce a homosexual Asian American male to his audience by slowly feeding the idea to them. Since Asian American queer identification is so uncommon in media, this idea could be discomforting and foreign for Americans. Thus, telling a story about a queer Asian American male through a repetitive stream of consciousness, which is very relatable for the viewer, could be a comforting method of breaking down the foreignness that is associated with homosexual Asian Americans.

The Un-Manly Man: How Media and Film De-Sexualize Asian American Men

Melody Erhuy (Originally posted on: 02/21/2013).

Racialized sexuality, where one’s sexual appeal solely relies on their ethnicity, is an unethical representation of manhood for some races who are not portrayed as manly as others. In Celine Shimizu’s book “Straightjacket Sexualities”, the author discusses how American film and media culture has racially unsexualized the Asian American male – castrated of his manhood because of his ethnic makeup. The unsexed hero, Asian American males are often portrayed as less manly to their Caucasian counterparts, namely because of their generally shorter height, softer features, and more fragile frame. The lack of muscular builds and defined attributes has de-sexualized Asian American men, moreover, as more ‘manly’ cues are frequently utilized in cinema to have the male actor exude a sense of attractiveness. “For Asian American men deprived of the romantic hero role in representation, the forming of subjectivity […] becomes an important goal in terms of what kind of manhood they can form.” (163) Shimizu discusses how subjective sexuality is the Asian American male’s saving grace – with a subjective standpoint, the film favorite brood male is not always the obvious champion. Subjectiveness can create a difference in opinions as one blanket ideal is not accepted as true. Therefore, the Asian American male could be viewed the just as attractive as his Caucasian counterparts, or perhaps even more so. Subjectiveness becomes power, yet it is not that powerful of a medium to shift the perceptions portrayed by American film and media. An Asian American man, moreover, who is shown sexually with a Caucasian woman is even more bizarre to see in American cinema, as Shimizu discusses. This interrelation shows a shifting of powers that can make a viewer, who is accustomed to seeing Caucasian sexuality, surprised or uncomfortable. Yet, here subjectivity can still make a difference, even if that difference can be small or large. I thought Shimizu’s discussion on subjectivity on the de-sexualization of Asian American men was an interesting sub-argument to combat American film and media, and gives Asian American men hope in finding sexual solace in the minds of viewers who are more aware of their personal perceptions versus the ideals brought forth by cinematic culture.

Week 10: Review on The Collective

Michael Saechao
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The Collective

The Collective is one hell of an interesting book. It is a well written novel based upon two main stories throughout the book named Joshua and Eric. Eric is the writing about his thoughts and life, basically an autobiography of some sort. They are both Asian American students that attend Macalaster College in Minnesota. Macalaster, or known as Mac, has a student population that is predominantly white, and Eric and Joshua are a couple of the few Asians that attend this liberal arts school. They both aspire to become writers.

In this book, the first chapter is like an ending, and after the first chapter, it starts to reveal how everything started. The book was centered around these two main characters that showed how Eric was a slowly changing character, where Joshua was not, more so a static character. He was a very self-righteous type of guy whom was very arrogant and stubborn. Joshua didn’t take advice or crap from anyone and continue to stay the same throughout his life. What makes this book interesting is seeing the development of how Eric changes throughout the book from an innocent boy to a more versed individual who started to have his own identity, rather than being consumed by the identity around him.

There are a couple reasons why I really liked this book, for starters it speaks about suicide. In most books the glance over suicides and don’t really talk too much into detail about them. For The Collective, there will be two different suicides that are of different gender and type of suicide. I found this rather intriguing because in one case you have a more “normal” suicide, and the other, you have a more “demonstration” suicide that teaches you about the differences in how people kill themselves. The next theme that I really enjoyed about this book was the ability to tie in Asian Americans and how they really are a minority in the larger scheme. When coming from the west coast, there is a hugely different culture than anywhere else. There are a large influx of different Asian cultures compared to the rest of the United States, so implementing the idea of how Asians are a minority group within the United States, was truly miraculous. The next thing that I really liked about the book was the ability to capture  the imagery into one’s mind. It was as if you can see what was going on through the detailed images that Don Lee had presented.

Overall, I give this book a 9/10, and I highly suggest one to read about it, especially if you are Asian American.

Week 7: Hypersexuality of Race and Straightjacket Sexualities

In Unbinding Straightjacket Sexualities, it showcases two individuals in film who have not been pushed into the stereotypical Asian male roles of asexuality and weakness.  These Asian American men, instead, portray characters of idealized love and desire.  James Shigeta and Jason Scott Lee, two men of very different time periods, both were able to attain roles atypical of Asian men, though not entirely ideal.  James Shigeta was prominent in Hollywood films from 1959 – 1961, whereas Jason Scott Lee was star during 1993 – 1994.  These actors are able to fulfill roles of ‘political ecstasy’ in which the spectators are so enveloped in the realm of film that they can identify with ‘disprized other’.  These two individuals were able to disparage the notion that Asian American male actors can only be limited to supporting roles.  They were able to perpetuate the stereotypes of Asian male masculinity and portray characters that modeled more similarly after the Western notion of masculinity and what it means to be male in a patriarchal society.  In a very male dominated society, Asian American men are often looked at as inferior and weak when compared to their white male counterparts.  These stereotypes of asexual Asian men are ingrained deeply within the societal institution and the government through institutional racism.

It was refreshing to see two Asian American actors shown in such a favorable light.  Prior to the introduction of these two men, I did not know of any Asian American men who were casted into lead roles of Hollywood blockbusters.  While there were select movies in which Asian males are the lead, these films are often shot and edited in a different light and style, creating a more comedic environment.  But when are Asian American men given roles of heroes, of knights in shining armor?  When are they the heartthrobs, desired by all the women, white and Asian?  These are seldom and few, so when I learned about James Shigeta and Jason Scott Lee through Straightjacket Sexualites, I was enthralled.  These two men, facing aversion and unfavorable conditions, were able to do what many other Asian American men have been unable to do.  They are indeed two men who should be highlighted for their accomplishments within the sphere of Asian Americans and the art and media.

Evelyn Pei — #83257157

The Collective

The Collective by author Don Lee was an immensely enjoyable novel that was extremely relatable in many aspects.  The narrative, although in first person point of view, beautifully related the diverse stories of the main characters.  From their individual experiences, the readers were able to form a sense of solidarity with the characters and their plights.  Although this novel did not deliver the fairy tale ending of happily ever after (and indeed it was far from that), it seemed more authentic and genuine.  It was a depiction of the realities of America, a place far different than many immigrants imagine it to be. The Collective was the first novel I have read that presented the plight of Asian Americans in a contemporary perspective.  By allowing the reader to follow along through a large portion of the characters’ lives, starting in young adulthood to middle age, Don Lee enables the readers to become familiar with his characters, thereby forming connections

The topics addressed in the novel not only reflected those discussed in class, but also pertained directly to my major, Asian American Studies in the Humanities department.  While negative stereotypes and images of Asian Americans are addressed and debunked, the novel also concentrates on the exploration of the Asian American identity.  The Asian American identity: an ongoing struggle between inclusion and exclusion within the eyes of the American society.  The Asian American identity has been a reoccurring question of mine recently.  The ways in which I connect and balance the two Chinese and American sides of myself are indirectly shown in the novel.  The question of assimilation and acceptance was raised within the novel, and it is a major struggle for many of the Asian American population.  Given that I am from southern California, where the Asian American population is significantly higher than that of the rest of the nation, I did not often question my Asian or American identities.  It was not until college and becoming an Asian American Studies major did I become aware of the social injustices against the Asian American population.  The most important aspect that I drew from the novel, The Collective, was to possess awareness in an ignorant society.  Many Asian Americans I know are unaware that discrimination still exists within the United States, and this lack of awareness limits their knowledge of the changing dynamics of the nation.  An awareness not only of the Asian American plight, but also an awareness of your own Asian American identity should be known.

Evelyn Pei — #83257157

Evoke: Celebrating South Asian Voices

 

 

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“My brother’s race is Excellence.”  This statement resonated with me during the panelist discussion that preceded the performance “Evoke” at the East West Players theatre in Los Angeles. Touching upon topics of artist opportunity for South Asian Americans, Parimal Rohit facilitated an artist discussion that made me more aware of the conditions in the media industry that affect South Asian artists today. The artists’ feedback was very informational and encouraging, opening my mind to the personal experiences of their journeys. The opening quote caught my attention because it confronts the thought that people should have the equal opportunity to be regarded with respect because of the integrity of their work, and not the color of their skin.  The artist who quoted this statement was referring to her brother who was the first South Asian brigadier general for the United States.  She makes a bold statement that her “brother’s race is excellence” because she is making a point that he is not being regarded for the color of his skin, but for the excellent work he has accomplished to get to the position he is in.

Opening the discussion was a question on what ideal arts project the artist wish for in their future. The most frequent response was to use media as a platform to reach the widest audience within the United States as well as overseas. One artist, Kavi, talked about “bringing something more, not something different.” I agreed with her opinion because I think it is part of the integrity of the work to be true to what is real about what an artist can offer, and to build upon the work that they already have without trying to please the system and trying to be different. Being different does not always mean that you will stand out and get ahead. Sometimes your work can be fresh if you allow it to evolve from the original foundation that it was created. Good work comes from staying grounded in that foundation and working hard at it everyday.  I think that if an artist can dedicate to their work in this way, they will make decisions that will keep their true self in their work.

Parimal then asked another question: “What exists out there that is working for artists?” The artists agreed that there are more opportunities for South Asian Americans in the media industry, although they also say that there still is not enough. More Asian American artists are auditioning for roles that aren’t initially written in as “Asian” or “Indian”, which means that Asian American actors have more of an opportunity to put themselves into the role. However some networks and TV shows have not evolved in a way that gives opportunities for Asian American content. One of the artists used the hit show “Saturday Night Live” as an example of a media source that still has not brought a level of diversity that includes minorities.

The artists also discussed how creating through collaboration and community gatherings has been a strong source of inspiration and creativity. The exchange of ideas and communication through dance, food and art has allowed artists to thrive. I believe that this is truly what keeps art a growing entity. By getting to know other artists who are on the same path as you, there is a bond and fellowship that is created. These alliances are what make a strong impact on community life and encourage new artists to keep cultivating their talents. The artists on panel then began to talk about the need for strong mentorship programs and the ethic of giving back to the community. I felt very strongly about this too because learning from experienced artists is a genuine way of developing one’s craft. Artists can begin to volunteer their time to mentor aspiring artists.

The artists also stressed that Asian Americans should not have to feel like they need permission to be given the same opportunities as everyone else. We have agency in our work, and our career should reflect that agency.  This made me think of The Collective, and the dialogues confronting the issue of Asian American art and whether it always needs to show victimhood in order for it to be acceptable. Does Asian American art always have to include themes that stem around race and diaspora? If not, will their work still be regarded in the same way as white artists?

The area that is lacking support in the South Asian American artist community is funding and sponsorship. The artists agree that funding needs to be more of a priority so that they can get the work to reach a wider audience. I am reflecting on how this can be achieved. We can do small things such as invite our family and friends to support Asian American art festivals and continue to stay true to our craft without letting race become a distraction. We must continue to challenge the stereotypes.

Watching “Evoke” was a cultural eye-opener. I wanted to experience it and appreciate it for simply what it offered.  The content of each of the six pieces had cultural references that I was familiar and unfamiliar with. I appreciated that each artist offered a different medium of art. The performances included multimedia, spoken word, dance, music, acting, and audience interaction. They included themes that revolved around stereotypes, religion, sexual identity, history, and oppression. These were all topics we discussed in class, so I was glad that I was able to make connections and identity these themes when they were brought up. I hope to continue to expose myself to these festivals and performances because I feel that my awareness of these issues can encourage my work as a dancer- to give back to the community as well as make a difference for the Asian American community.

Dana Roy

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“Art should simply be about what makes us Human”

Dana Roy

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Before joining this course, I had little awareness of the representation of Asian American artists in media. I must also admit that I took Asian stereotypes and racial comments very lightly, being very passive about the jokes that were being passed along. Yet, after participating in the class and engaging in the course material, I still find that I am exploring how I react and feel when I observe or hear racial stereotypes in society. Especially after reading The Collective, I questioned what Asian Americans are really doing to change things so that they are fairly represented in the art community. I admire the honesty of the book because it described real life reactions to what seemed like impossible solutions. The book does not end with a happy note, but still left me with a feeling of optimism and wonder.

I believe Don Lee painted a very vivid picture of the real and honest scenarios that Asian American artists must go through, and the bittersweet resolutions that those artists must confront. I appreciated the journey that Lee takes the reader on, giving me a seamless story that follows a group of friends from college to adulthood.  While witnessing the timeline of the characters’ lives, I was also able to learn about the struggles of being an Asian in America, especially when trying to pursue an artistic career. Lee includes stereotypical racial slurs and racial tension into the language of the book. Reading these throughout the book made me feel like I was becoming more aware of what Asian American artists had to go through.  And yet, while reading about these issues, I feel very anxious to know what solutions are being found in society today so that there is justice in the system for giving Asian American artists equal treatment and representation. As I was getting to know the characters’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities, as well as their strengths and potential, I started to wonder if it is the system that will forever create a perpetuating attitude of fear and selling out when it comes to Asian American Artists chasing their dreams.  As with many artists, the character in the book are in the midst of discovering their identities.

The theme of sexuality is brought up in The Collective- through the hypersexuality of Asian women and effeminate image of Asian males. The relationship between Joshua and Eric also made me see that Joshua had a genuine trust in Eric that was not really brought to the surface. I felt that the moments that Joshua and Eric shared together reveled a deep bond that affected each individual. Joshua seemed to hint at the loneliness he truly felt deep down inside all of his selfishness.  Their relationship may have suggested a love for each other that was never confronted.

I most relate to Eric’s character as an Asian American. He described situations where he felt more passive, unoffended and confused with where to place his opinions. For example, when there was a gathering of the 3AC there was a discussion of how Asians are misrepresented in movies. The group starts to talk about the movie Sixteen Candles and how the character of Long Duk Dong created a perpetual stereotype of geeky Asian men. However, Eric admits to himself that he did not feel offended. I wonder the same thing. If I am not offended, does it mean I am not being loyal as an Asian American? I believe that these scenes give me more awareness on how I personally feel, and it forces me to ask questions about my Asian American identity. I believe Don Lee confront an issue that allows the reader to examine how to define identity. The lack of defining your identity may create more indecisiveness and obscurity in the way one looks at him/herself. In contrast, Joshua was very blunt and bold in stating how he felt about Asian American issues. He was a character that had no filter and made himself feel above others. However, through his selfishness and arrogance, there is the thought that Joshua may have just wanted to be loved. He had it made up in his mind that he would always be alone. There is a wonder if Joshua may have been the most idealist character of them all, as cocky as he was. His inability to grow and mature may be testament to the fact that he could not accept who he was inside. His suicide could have possibly been a result of his lack of acceptance for himself that inevitably became his reality when the 3AC disbanded.

Jessica’s character made me think about artistic integrity in the community she worked in. I felt that Jessica had the most integrity in her work. She worked hard to support the lifestyle she chose, even when it was against her parents expectations- the stereotyped expectation that Asian parents want their children to excel as scientists or engineers. However, Jessica is caught with a challenging issue when her art causes controversy because of its graphic material. From being categorized as “porn” and not “art”, the issue suddenly, but not surprisingly, starts to become a personal attack to their Asian race. Jessica sells out, and gives up her art. How do Asian American artists, and artists in general, overcome these struggles?  It is unfair that Jessica, Joshua and Eric had to make it a racial struggle, when it really should just be a struggle with the art- just like most artists who are not Asian must experience. However, I learned that this is something we must accept. But, it does not mean we cannot make a change.

The conclusion of the book enlightened me about the reality that many face in their journey of becoming an artist. The discussion we had in class made me think about whether or not these artists had no other option but to settle. I am still optimistic though that the small changes that have been made are credited to the Asian American artists who have persevered in their work, accepting the challenges of their situation, but also going confidently in their own direction as an artist.

A Review of Identity in Don Lee’s The Collective

Alyse Blachly

The Collective by Don Lee is a thought provoking work that delves into themes that are often considered taboo. For example, issues like suicide, sexuality, and racial and personal identity are both questioned, but also given a voice. I found this book very relatable because it follows the lives of three students who are trying to find themselves as they go through their college years and beyond. All three are Asian American, providing both a common bond, but also contrasting how each experiences this identity in very different ways. I was very interested in how the character development (or lack thereof) related to issues of identity as related to Asian Americans.

            Joshua is a trans-racially adopted Korean American, who very much embraces his Korean heritage. His philosophy is that Asian Americans must always portray issues and culture in their art and writing that relates and betters other Asians. At the same time, because of his adoption, he feels that he does not have a family history, and therefore he is very insecure about his identity. He hides this by being a jerk most of the time and acting as if he is superior in every aspect. While Eric is Korean as well, he does not feel particularly different, but rather he just feels like he is American. He writes about white characters in his writing, likes to date white girls, and doesn’t feel any ties or desire to relate to his Korean heritage. I think Don Lee is trying to explore different types of identity that Asians have. This can be more complicated than it might seem. On the one hand, why is there a problem with Eric just wanting to be classified as an American? America is made up of so many different ethnicities, and you don’t see every white person learning the language of their own ethnicities. If someone is insulted for not being interested in their own culture, I would wonder if it mattered what they looked like. An Asian must be interested in their heritage, no matter what generation, while it is fine for Caucasians to be American. I think, in this sense, it enforces the view of Asians as the “perpetual foreigner” that we learned about in the beginning of class. On the other hand, Asians are already marginalized and stereotyped, not fairly represented in the media and other arts, and are still othered. So, for Eric to only date white girls and write about white characters, this could be an indication of the American culture that preferences whites, rubbing off on Eric’s own way of thinking about himself and others. If he rejects his heritage and his families’ enactment of it, it could be a little deeper than just seeing himself as an American. So it is clear that there is a fine line, and Lee depicts the two sides in Eric and Joshua’s early characters.

            As the book continues, Eric begins to stop relying on Joshua’s insistence and finally comes into his own character. I think the character that Eric becomes is in the middle of the two extremes of looking at identity. For example, in the beginning Joshua’s thoughts rubbed off on Eric. He began to be skeptical about the white girls he was dating and began to believe that there is a very specific type of art Asians can focus on. While elements of this can be true, the problem was that Eric was being spoon-fed the ideas because he was Asian, rather than experiencing them himself. As he matured, he started developing his own ideas about these issues. He was okay falling in love and staying with a white girl because he could connect with her better than anyone else. He did not feel like he had to date an Asian girl, but also didn’t feel like he was with his girlfriend because she was white. At that point, he was able to transcend certain stereotypes and rules based on race identity. But he also recognized that there are issues that affect Asian Americans that don’t affect other Americans. By speaking out against these things, he finally understood what Joshua was talking about. The key thing to note here though is that he was not ordered by Joshua or by a teacher to care about these issues. Rather, he experienced racism, stereotyping, and oppression for himself. By forming a real connection with the issues, he could then be an advocate for other Asian Americans.

            Joshua’s character, while passionate and talented, is very dark, puts others down, and does not grow. In my opinion, he becomes obsessed with other Asians and bases his identity solely on them. He idolizes certain Asian artists, he critiques Asians who do not do what he believes they should, and goes to Korea to try to find his birthparents and his cultural heritage. In themselves, all of these are not bad. However, Joshua does not seem to be growing as an individual himself. He feels the need to overcompensate for his stolen heritage by dominating in all fields rather than by bettering himself in fields that he needs to grow in. This becomes clear as Jessica becomes more and more annoyed with him, and Eric finally begins to grow apart from him, once his own identity has been formed. Jessica seems to be content with her own identity. Her art portrays Asian/Asian American issues, but she is not possessive or defined by this identity. She defends Kathryn and Esther when they are critiqued for writing about characters that were not of their own ethnicity. She recognizes Joshua’s faults when Eric does not. I think Jessica contrasts well to Joshua.

            Joshua’s suicide is another perplexing issue. I remember a scene when Joshua talks about suicide when he is living with Jessica and Eric. He says that suicide is something one does when they’ve done everything they needed to do in life. It is not cowardly, but represents a man of action. I’m sure there are a lot more issues that went into Joshua’s decision to commit suicide. The amount of drugs he took, his lack of companionship, and his lack of birthparents (and death of his adopted parents) I’m sure they all took a toll on his mental health. But going along with my reading of The Collective, Joshua’s character development was very stagnant, and so it makes sense that he would feel the need to end his life. To be defined by a certain identity and base your happiness and success of it, it becomes difficult to live up to. If he had writer’s block or needed to contrive a story rather than base it off experience, if his books were not successful, if they didn’t make a difference, if his life had become a monotony of the same thing—all of these trapped him into an identify he felt compelled to adhere to. Overall, Joshua’s suicide comments on issues of racial identity, cultural appropriation, and individual identity versus a collective identity.  

Don Lee: The Collective

Howard Diep | 10209864

Don Lee’s The Collective is a story that follows three aspiring Asian American artists into their university and then post-graduate life. Addressing many issues such as Queer Asian American Identity, interracial dating, education, the model minority myth, identify formation, suicide and mental healthy issues, love, immigrant communities, agency, voice and power.

This novel take different approaches while exploring these different issues, based in the classroom and outside experiences. Set in the nineteen eighties at Macalester College, the main character Eric Cho, Joshua Yoon, and Jessica Tsai. Jessica Tsai is described as a beautiful individual and artistic painter; Eric Cho is a aspiring writer who has trouble identifying with his Asian roots; and Joshua Yoon is a bit dark and melancholic. At first the three students relate to each other by dabbling in descriptive details of art and sex and then form a bond after racial slurs are tagged across their classroom. In turn, after college they form The 3AC – The Asian American Artists Collective. The Collective weaves a line between the theoretical fights in the classroom and the actually fights that individuals may take on in life and experience. In The Collective, experience is the frame for Asian American Identify.

Overall I thought The Collective was a very enjoyable and insightful read. Although it is not like other picture perfect books with blissful endings, it was grounded more on a story of reality than fiction. Lee does an amazing job in writing descriptive accounts of the three characters experiences and pieces it all together masterfully. Not only does Lee address different issues and questions racial identity on every page, Lee also sheds light on how Asian Americans who do not follow the social norm deal with the sacrifice one must make to be an artist and the disheartened burden of unfulfilled dreams.

In relation to the class Asian American Media and Art, we related the book to the central theme and question of what defines Asian American Art and an Asian American Artist? Is art created by Asian Americans considered Asian American art? Or is it just art created by an Asian American and is labeled as art just like every other artist? We’ve learned in class discussion that even in the art community there is segregation and artists of color compared to artists who aren’t individuals of color. Personally, I believe that there shouldn’t be a line that separates the two because we should all be equal. And in the question of Asian American art or just regular art, I believe that is up to the artist to decide.