Feb 21, 2024 - News

New graphic novel aims to shed light on AAPI history

Photo of the "Fighting to Belong!" comic book

Image: Courtesy of The Asian American Foundation

A new graphic novel chronicling Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander history hit the bookstores this month, aiming to counter the lack of visibility surrounding AAPI communities' experiences in the U.S.

Why it matters: About 3 in 10 Americans are unable to name a historical event or policy related to Asian Americans, according to a 2023 survey by The Asian American Foundation (TAAF).

Photo showing two separate pages from the comic book "Fighting to Belong!" One shows the Manilamen and the other discusses the Gold Rush in California
Images: Courtesy of The Asian American Foundation

State of play: Spearheaded by the San Francisco-headquartered nonprofit TAAF, the first volume of "Fighting to Belong!" introduces readers to a group of middle school protagonists who revisit key moments in AAPI history — like New Orleans' "Manilamen."

  • Though the comic book format is aimed at youth, it's meant to reach audiences of all ages and backgrounds.
  • "People need to understand that it's not just about politics and history, but it's about our very culture," Amy Chu, who wrote the comic alongside Alexander Chang, told Axios.
  • Illustrated by Louie Chin, the graphic novel also includes a curriculum guide that can be used in classrooms.
  • "It was kind of a passion project but also something that I think is long overdue," Chu added. "We really should have had all this content in our curriculum."

What to watch: The second volume will be released in September, while the third is set to publish next January.

  • They'll delve into topics like South Asian migration, activism and reform, Hawaiian history and more, according to Chang.

The big picture: "Fighting to Belong!" comes as the U.S. continues to grapple with the aftermath of a nationwide surge in anti-Asian violence.

Of note: "Fighting to Belong!" was published via a partnership involving TAAF, Third State Books, the nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change and The Asian American Education Project.

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