[By Ben Blanco]
While searching for a book to read over the summer, I stumbled upon Big Little Man by Alex Tizon. I was instantly drawn to the premise of the book, an exploration of male, Asian American identity. Tizon combines his own experience growing up as a Filipino immigrant with historical and cultural analysis to deliver an interesting look on racial identity within the United States and self-acceptance.
Tizon builds his book around the idea that Asian males are stereotyped to be weaker than other races: physically, sexually, and culturally. History, as well as pop culture, is used to describe how the current view of “weak” Asians developed and how it affects Asians today. Personal anecdotes on sexual inferiority and frustration help complete the picture of Asians as the stereotypical “weaker” race and help keep the book light-hearted while dwelling on important topics. The personal history combines well with the historical and cultural analysis, grounding the book and making sure thate Tizon’s fierce voice is heard throughout the entirety of the piece. Tizon writes the book like a narrative, making it easy to read and absorb his arguments.
Despite the easy to read format, some of Tizon’s arguments seem a little stretched. For example, his connections between imperialism and Western views of Asians make a lot of generalizations and ignore other cultures that have been affected by imperialism. Despite such lapses, many of Tizon’s arguments are well-supported and logical, such as his argument that pop culture lacks strong Asian role models, hurting young Asians' self-esteem.
Overall, Tizon makes important points about racial identity, sexuality, and acceptance. Although his book is aimed at Asian males, his message can easily be related to all sexes and races. Big Little Man is a great recommendation for anyone eager to learn more about one person’s journey of acceptance within a larger culture and to apply the experiences to their own life.
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