A new video published by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center yesterday (November 29) breathes new life into an early work of Asian-American literature.
It features comedian Hasan Minhaj, grassroots organizer Ivy Quicho and author Junot Díaz reading from “America Is in the Heart,” by Carlos Bulosan. The 1943 memoir chronicles Bulosan’s journey from the Philippines to the rural Pacific Northwest and the racism and economic hardship his family experienced while working as itinerant laborers. The featured passage uplifts immigrants’ right to American identity despite xenophobic challenges—a familiar topic to immigrants of both Bulosan and the readers’ generations.
Our faith has been shaken so many times, and now it’s put to question. Our faith is a living thing, and it can be crippled or chained by blasting away our personalities and keeping us in constant fear. Unless we are properly prepared, the powers of darkness will have good reason to catch us unaware and trample our lives.
Director Frank Chi, who previously made “Letters from Camp” for the Smithsonian, told Angry Asian Man that he turned to Bulosan’s memoir to find strength in his identity. “When you’re an immigrant, and Asian American, you’re bombarded by attempts from everywhere that say you don’t belong,” he says. “For me, Bulosan’s words helped repel that poison. He helped teach me how to be an American in my own way, on my own time."
Watch the video above.