Friday, February 04, 2005

Asian American Issues of Poetry Magazines

The Indiana Review recently did a "special" issue on Asian-American poets. The issue of "Asian-American issues" presents a conundrum analogous to having February as "Black History Month" or May as "Asian Pacific American Heritage Month." (I don't think that South Asians have a "history month," and I'm not exactly sure why.)

On the one hand, you are segregating an entire ethnic group. But on the other hand, without these months, you might under-include, or entirely exclude, the histories or poetries of minorty groups. I had a history teacher who told us that he did not believe in Black History Month, because blacks should not be segregated like that.

I think I have less of a problem with Asian Pacific American Heritage Month than with Black History Month, because the under-inclusion or exclusion of Asian Pacific American history is so much more severe. I think, from K-12, I was literally taught nothing about Asian American history. I learned it all in college. Similarly, I don't have too much of a problem with "Asian-American poetry" issues, though we might want to ask ourselves why Asian-American poets need these special issues and whether the problem of underrepresentation may be better remedied by greater inclusion in "regular" issues.


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