American Contexts

Audrey B. Joyce
Juni 2004


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American Contexts
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This multicultural reader includes forty non-fiction selections by American minority writers on themes such as identity, family, assimilation, justice, and equality.

The selections have been chosen to appeal both to minority students as well as those from the majority culture. The readings are designed to be used as a basis for discussion, writing, and research.

Grouped by the four ethnic/racial categories used by the U.S. Census-African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Native American. All of the authors included are recognized widely as spokespersons for their ethnic/racial group and address the issues of importance to members of that group. It is the voice of the "insider" that the reader will hear. As students review the cultural adaptations made by others, they will have an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences in establishing identity.


  • All authors in the readings meet three criteria: 1) All forty authors are award-winning respected authors, 2) These authors are recognized as spokespersons for their ethnic group, and 3) The authors write about a variety of topics-such as bilingual education, dropouts, gang warfare, and single mothers-that are debated in today's media.
  • The introduction to each of the four ethnic/racial sections consists of a brief overview of that group's history in the U.S. and a list of important milestones. This review helps students understand the contexts of the essays and provides ideas for additional research projects.
  • Biographical and critical notes before each reading offer additional information about each writer.
  • Questions for discussion, research, and writing follow each selection. All of these questions elicit critical thinking and are helpful with student writing and discussion.
  • “Preparing to Read” questions before each selection are open-ended provocative questions that can be used for group work, class discussion, or journal writing.
  • “Writing from Research” lists a variety of research questions concerning each ethnic/racial group. These questions follow each selection.
  • TECHNOLOGY ADVANTAGE-To assist with research, the text contains a selected bibliography and a list of selected Internet resources for each of the four sections-African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Native American.

Table of Contents

1. African American Writers.

Introduction to African American Writers.

Important Milestones.

Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life.

Ralph Ellison, What Would America Be Like Without Blacks.

Maya Angelou, My Brother Bailey and Kay Francis.

Barbara Reynolds, Our Sons Under Siege.

Nikki Giovanni, Black Is the Noun.

Claude M. Steele, Race and the Schooling of Black Americans.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Two Nations of Black America.

Cornel West, Beyond Affirmative Action.

Marcus Mabry, When the Game Is Over.

Comparing Selections: African American Writers.

Selected Bibliography: African American Writers.

Selected Internet Resources: African American Writers.

2. Hispanic American Writers.

Introduction to Hispanic American Writers.

Important Milestones.

Jesus Colon Sketches From A Puerto Rican in New York.

Joseph Torres, The Language Crusade.

Richard Rodriguez, Illegal Immigrants: Prophets of a Borderless World.

Pablo Medina, Arrival: 1960.

Gustavo Perez-Firmat, Earth to Papi, Earth to Papi.

Judith Ortiz Cofer, The Myth of the Latin Woman.

Gary Soto, Like Mexicans.

Sandra Cisneros, Un Poquito de Tu Amor.

Luis J. Rodriguez, Turning Youth Gangs Around.

Christine Granados, Young, Single. And a Mom.

Comparing Selections: Hispanic American Writers.

Selected Bibliography: Hispanic American Writers.

Selected Internet Resources: Hispanic American Writers.

3. Asian American Writers.

Introduction to Asian American Writers.

Important Milestones.

Frank Chin, Confessions of a Chinatown Cowboy.

Bharati Mukherjee, American Dreamer.

Shawn Wong, The Chinese Man Has My Ticket.

David Mura, Where the Body Meets Memory.

Amy Tan, Mother Tongue.

Helen Zia, Beyond Our Shadows: From Nothing a Consciousness.

Fae Myenne Ng, False Gold.

Chang-rae Lee, Coming Home Again.

Eric Liu, Song for My Father.

Le Thi Diem Thuy, The Gangster We Are All Looking For.

Comparing Selections: Asian American Writers.

Selected Bibliography: Asian American Writers.

Selected Internet Resources: Asian American Writers.

4. Native American Writers.

Introduction to Native American Writers.

Important Milestones.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, America's Oldest Racism.

Vine Deloria, Jr., The Reservation Conditions.

N. Scott Momaday, The Names: A Memoir.

Gerald Vizenor, Measuring My Blood.

Simon J. Ortiz, The Language We Know.

Joseph Bruchac, Notes of a Translator's Son.

Linda Hogan, All My Relations.

Louis Owens, Water Witch.

Leslie Marmon Silko, Language and Literature from a Pueblo Indian.


Inez Petersen, What Part Moon.

Comparing Selections: Native American Writers.

Selected Bibliography: Native American Writers.

Selected Internet Resources: Native American Writers.

Connecting Writers across Ethnic/Racial Groups.


Acknowledgements and Permissions.

Index of Authors and Titles.