Type of paper: Book Review

Topic: Sociology, Canada, Culture, Social Issues, America, China, Identity, Society

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/17

Voices Rising: A Book Review

Racism is defined as the belief that some races are more superior that others. The book Voices Rising presents the struggles of Asian Canadians to overcome racism. The isoaltion of Asian Canadians in Canada was a result of the country’s colonial and postcolonial history. Canada after colonialism was faced with the issue of establishing its own identity and nationalism since 1980s. It had to struggle in asserting its own distinctiveness against the influences of British and American imperialisms. In its quest to define Canadianness, it came to exclude its invaders-settlers. Racism against minorities such as Asian Canadians became strong, and like Canada itself, a struggle for the establishment of their identity and have it recognized in the society also became a necessity.
Asians have been a part of Canda’s history as their labor contributed to Canada’s building of a nation-state (Li, 2007, p.13). Witnessing the history of Canada unfold and becoming a part of its revelation puts Asians in the present reality of Canada as well. However, like Canada’s struggle to establish its identity, Asian Canadian also had to assert themselves to stop racism and for their identity to be acknowledged. Japanese and Chinese Asians started expressing themselves through their music, dance, and culture (Li, 2007, p.15). This shows that in order to be acknowledged, one’s identity should be introduced. As suggested by Tanaka, dominant culture will only remain dominant if Asian Canadians detach themselves from their own community and their ethnicity (Li, 2007, p.19). Instead of allowing one’s self to suffer “depersonalization” (Li, 2007, p.19), one should maintain individual and group worth and not lose sight of his/her own identity.
Racism can also be fought through knowledge production that will address the cultural needs of a marginalized group. Literary studies should be abundant in various academic homes in order for the race to be introduced and known. Unless minority rights demand and do something, marginalized race will remain alienated.
Social change is any alteration in terms of behavior patterns and cultural norms that translates to significant social consequences. In the book, social change refers to empowering a culture through recognition and giving it space to grow and express itself. This is what Asian Canadians are fighting for, and this they wish to achieve through various Asian Canadian movements aimed at pushing their political and social agenda. Similar to how the Asian Americans “reclaimed their past and changed the future” (Li, 2007, p.21), Asian Canadians are also committed to “projecting their image of a new Canada” (Li, 2007, p.21), one where Asian Canadians are an integral part. This, according to both Asian Americans and Asian Canadians, they plan to achieve by combining social and cultural activism (Li, 2007, p.21). For a visual artist such as Jin-me Yoon, artistic practice will help into “bringing to the consciousness of Asian and non-Asia Canasians” the culture and indentity unique to Asian Canadians and positively affect social change. This was also the same goal of the magazine The Asianadian, which also provided Asians an avenue for Asian Canadians to express and introduce themselves.
Social structure, on the other hand, is defined by the organized pattern of social relationships and social institutions. Although it may not be easily perceived by observers, it is a crucial aspect of a society as it influences all the social experience of every member of the society. Social class, which is an example of social structure, refers to the access of different groups to the resources of the society. The social structure of Canada was one which excluded Asians and other minority groups. As such, they are limited as to what they can do and what they are allowed to do as members of the society. An example was the effect of multiculturalism to a Chinese filmmaker, whose still pictures of a film which show Chinese characters got rejected. This shows that standards are established, and in the field of movies, Asians were expected to assimilate or forget their own identities for them to be accepted. This is also an example of structural inequality wherein a group of people are treated unequally in relation to other categories of people. Racial supremacy as displayed by the American filmmaking company which rejected the pictures characterized structural inequality. When they asked for interracial characters to be in the picture instead of accepting the original two Chinese characters, they want to assert their race as superior than that of the Chinese. It is only through the acceptance of the idea of interracial will the movie be accepted in America.
Agency is known as the capacity of an individual to act independently and free from any coercion or influence, and to make decisions freely. Structure, on the other hand, is what limits or influences the opportunities and choices available for an individual. The argument between the two is primarily based on the issues of socialization versus autonomy, which dictates whether an individual should act freely on in a manner that the social deems proper. In the context of the struggle of Asian Canadians, structure puts limits to what they can do and which areas they can participate as an isolated entity in Canada, and in the case of the Chinese filmmaker, in America. However, Asian Canadians have their own culture and experiences that define them which is neither Asian nor Canadian, but a mixture of both. These are what define them as people who are part of the Canadian society, and such they should be allowed the agency that local Candians enjoy as they are as much a part of Canada’s history and present.


Li, Xiaoping. (2007). Voices Rising: Asian Canadian Cultural Activism. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press

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Professorr Book Review Samples. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/professorr-book-review-samples/. Published Nov 17, 2020. Accessed June 09, 2023.

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