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Virtual Pop Goes the Culture: The History of Asians in American Pop Culture

Let’s close out Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a deep dive into Asians in pop culture! In the pre-talkie early years of Hollywood, two of the biggest silent movie stars, Sessue Hayakawa and Anna May Wong were Asian. Portrayed as exotic and inscrutable, these stars graced the silver screen with great success. But suddenly and within a short period of time, all the major Hollywood movie studios began hiring white actors instead of actual Asians and gave them the “yellowface” treatment with taped-back eyes and makeup. Fast-forward to today, and Asians have attained an amazing level of stardom and success both on TV and the big screen. How, when and why did all those cultural shifts come about?  This presentation covers more than a century of how Asians have been portrayed in Hollywood, on commercials, and on stage.


Gil Asakawa is a journalist, editor, author and blogger who covers Japan, Japanese American, Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural and social justice issues, with a blog, The Nikkei View. He’s a nationally-known speaker, panelist and expert on Japanese American history and Asian American identity. Having written for publications including Rolling Stone and Newsweek Japan, he has authored books including The Toy Book (a history of baby boomer toys, Knopf, 1991) and Being Japanese American (a history of Japanese in the U.S., Stone Bridge Press, 2014) and has been a consultant for organizations focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion within their institutions. Because of his extensive and pioneering work he has received the “Voice Award” from the Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA). His latest book Tabemasho! Let’s Eat!, a history of Japanese food in America will be published by Stone Bridge Press this fall.

To register for this program, click here!

This program is in partnership with the Ashland Public Library, Cary Memorial Library, Maynard Public Library, Morrill Memorial Library, Somerville Public Library, and Wayland Free Public Library.

This event is generously sponsored by the Library Trustees.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2022

7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Virtual - Other Online
361 Washington Street, Brookline, MA 02445, United States


Join us from the comfort of your home.

Need aids or accommodations? Email our administration team or give us a call at 617-730-2360 for more information.

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