In attempting to whittle down my ever-growing stack of books I thought I'd try to plow through books by Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) for the month of May (which is AAPI Month). I've had 'Yellow' for several years on my shelf so it seemed like it would be a good opportunity to get a head start on the month (as well as clearing out the rather large, oops).
Wu discusses Asian Americans and examines their identity, their place in US society, the racism and microaggressions encountered in his personal experiences. He walks the reader through history, pop culture references, societal context, relations with others, etc. How to recognize the concept of race in US has not limited to black and white, what we can learn, what we still need to learn, etc.
At least, I think that's what he was trying to do. As other reviews say, his background as a lawyer comes very clearly through. Sometimes he goes into excruciating detail that isn't always necessary. Sometimes it's frustrating to watch him switch topics without a better transition or framework. And honestly, a lot of this seemed to be colored by his own experiences and feelings. Which is not necessarily bad or invalid, but it's a little frustrating.
He isolates Asian Americans a bit (which is understandable in his focus) but as noted elsewhere, his comments about black people are worth a side-eye. He may acknowledge their work and history but perhaps without understanding racism, anti-blackness and how that may be affecting his POV. Some of his commentary on immigration and racial profiling are a bit bizarre and at odds with his overall thesis...or examples of how he doesn't quite understand the greater context.
Overall the book is not for me. It might be handy for a law student (seriously, it sometimes reads like it's a bunch of legal case studies) but as someone who is more of a layperson and was looking for something different it wasn't for me. I wish I hadn't purchased it as a bargain buy but oh well. Recommend the library unless you're studying specific topics he covers.
A book that I thought of (but is not quite on the same topic) is Erika Lee's 'The Making of Asian America' which is more of a history and I felt can be read without needing a class to frame the book.