Monday, September 04, 2006

The Asian American Curriculum Project

Recently, I came across the Asian American Curriculum Project, which focuses on marketing and selling Asian-American books. Here is a description of the organization from its website:

"Our mission is to educate the public about the great diversity of the Asian American experience, through the books that we distribute; fostering cultural awareness and to educate Asian Americans about their own heritage, instilling a sense of pride. AACP believes that the knowledge which comes from the use of appropriate materials can accomplish these goals...

The Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. has been an award winning non-profit voluntary educational organization since 1969. Our original name was Japanese American Curriculum Project JACP, Inc. Since our beginning in 1969, we have grown to offer the most complete collection of Asian American books.

The books and other materials offered are for all age groups, all levels of education and all Asian ethnic groups; including and not limited to Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Samoan, Tongan, Thai, & Vietnamese Americans and Hawaiians.

Materials include literature, folk tales, posters, magazine, tapes on language and music, games, activities, teachers guides, dictionaries, bilingual materials and reference books on history, social issues and education."

I find the idea of a bookstore that specializes in "Asian-American books" quite fascinating. A thought occurred to me -- there are lots of grocery stores that sell Asian food and cater primarily to Asian and Asian-American grocery shoppers, but I had not come across any place that specializes in the sale of Asian/Asian-American books until the AACP, Inc. Evidently, it's a lot harder to go without bok choy or litchee than the latest offering in Asian-American poetry. Fair enough. But here is a bookstore/organization that makes a nice effort to cater to readers of Asian/Asian-American literature.


Blogger Bryan Thao Worra said...

Well, there is the Hmong ABC Bookstore that sells books by and about the Hmong ( that's been in business nearly 10 years now selling exclusively Hmong related material. They're a good exception, although we should be fair to other Asian bookstores across the country that I think should count.

But I will concede "Pan-Asian American" bookstores are definitely harder to find and keep in business. But I don't think they need to be. I do think there's a heavy politicization that tends to emerge however.

Do you stock the 'sell-outs' or the 'culture pimps' as much as concrete, articulate voices, even if those voices are occasionally part of the minority? Do you hold on to the stock of the underappreciated as some sort of cultural artifact, or only Oprah-approved best-sellers?

All sorts of questions go with it.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Roger Pao said...

Thanks for the comments, Bryan, and thanks for the reference to the Hmong ABC bookstore.

In general, I think that it's hard for "ethnic/racial"-themed bookstores to stay in business. It is often difficult for independent bookstores to thrive to begin with, and I would agree that such a politicization makes it even more difficult for such bookstores.

10:57 AM  

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