Traise Yamamoto

San Jose State University, BA

University of Washington, MA, MFA, PhD

Traise Yamamoto is Associate Professor of English at the University of Calfornia, Riverside, having joined the faculty in 1994. She is the author of Masking Selves, Making Subjects: Japanese American Women, Identity, and the Body (University of California Press, 1999). Her poetry and fiction have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including The New Republic, Poetry Northwest, Breaking Silence: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Poets, Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies, and Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry. She is one of the subjects in a forthcoming documentary on Asian American women poets, "Between the Lines." She is currently working on a manuscript of short fiction, as well as a scholarly study on pleasure and the problematic subject in Asian American literature.

Traise Yamamoto, "An Apology to Althea Connor: Private Memory, Public Racialization, and Making a Language"

As an Asian 4th grader in a mostly white school in the Bay area, Yamamoto met an African American girl named Althea. Althea put race at the center of her thinking and connected Black oppression to Asian oppression. Althea and Yamamoto got in trouble when white parents learned they were lecturing the white students on the politics of racial oppression on the playground. Althea knew she needed someone else who spoke her language about racism, but these talks carried a high cost. When discovered, the teacher blamed Althea for causing the problem, and Yamamoto's parents forbade her from being Althea's friend. The other students isolated Althea, and made fun of her, but Yamamoto did nothing. Althea was treated differently because she was African American; she was deemed in need of punishment whereas Yamamoto was in need of redirection. Althea's parents eventually sent her to another school. The price paid by Asian Americans is radically different from that paid by African Americans in white society. Cross-identification between the two groups challenges codes of whiteness, but we need to also look at the costs involved. When writing this paper, Yamamoto looked up Althea on the web and found she had become an extremely conservative Republican academic. Yamamoto sent her the paper, and she attacked Yamamoto, her memory of events, and forced her to use a fake name. This is a question of narrative authority. Autobiographical narratives are a key form in minority discourses, but they have to balance between representation and individuality. The moral question here is what right does an author have to represent someone else? When we speak of narrative authority, we must question the underpinnings of our autobiographical efforts.

Traise Yamamoto

Center for Asia Pacific America (CAPA) Research


Eddy Kurushima and Kim Yasuda, by Traise Yamamoto

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