Getting the American Dirt on the Tiger Mother

Getting the American Dirt on the Tiger Mother

Check out my colleague (and wife) Miliann Kang’s post titled “Getting the American Dirt on the Tiger Mother – or What Asian Americans Can Learn From Latinx Writers about Challenging Misrepresentation” at Tropics of Meta in which she relates the recent controversy about the novel American Dirt to the Tiger Mother episode involving Amy Chua and how both events focus on the question of cultural legitimacy and integrity. Here’s a brief excerpt:

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings

But in addition to the overall tyranny of model minority discourse, other factors were at play having to do with the specificity of this author and the topics she addressed. The current American Dirt debate sheds light on why it was so difficult for Asian Americans to have their trenchant critiques of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother heard, and offers lessons for how to have our voices be taken more seriously in the future.

It’s hard to believe that Chua’s Tiger Mother book burst on to the scene almost ten years ago. Whether Asian American Studies scholars like me like it or not, the level of controversy surrounding her depiction of the “Chinese” way of parenting accounts for why it remains a big part of the discussion about what constitutes Asian and Asian American “culture.” Miliann’s article ties the Tiger Mother controversy to the recent debate about American Dirt and what this debate tells us about race, representation, and cultural authenticity.



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