Myopic Perceptions and Textbooks: Chinese Americans' Search for Identity1


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    The author thanks Connie Young Yu and Judith A. Mitchell for their help and encouragement in the development of this work; both critiqued a preliminary draft and contributed parts of their own. The Research Committee of the Graduate School, University of Wisconsin, Madison provided some support to the writing of this paper.


Americans have perpetuated inaccurate images and attitudes concerning the Chinese that suggest the operation of social-psychological anomalies and prevent the growth of healthy human relations. Narrow stereotypic perceptions of and prejudice toward the Chinese have been so pervasive and tenable that Americans of Chinese ancestry do not perceive themselves with a meaningful identity. Examination of American social studies textbooks for elementary and secondary schools shows that Asian studies and the involvement of Asians in American history are barely mentioned or neglected completely; furthermore what information is given reinforces stereotypic illusions. There is rising protest and counterresponse to the restrictive perceptions among younger Asian Americans who seek the identity and acceptance they have been denied by others and themselves.