Linda Trinh Vo, Mobilizing an Asian American Community

Linda Trinh Vo, Mobilizing an Asian American Community

Julian Chun-Chung Chow

Linda Trinh Vo, Mobilizing an Asian American Community. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004. $68.50 hardcover, $22.95 papercover.

In Mobilizing an Asian American Community, Linda Trinh Vo provides a timely and well-written analysis addressing one of the most important issues facing community activists in working with Asian American communities. Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic minorities in the United States. They are also the most diverse minority comprised of more than 30 ethnic groups many of whom have historical, cultural, religious, and language distinctions. If there is anything these groups share in common before they migrated to the US, perhaps the only common element is that they all share a part of the Pacific Ocean from the Asian and Pacific Rim. It is not until their arrival in the United States that they realize they are being referred to as Asian Americans and are being treated as a monolithic group.

It is generally agreed upon by scholars and community organizers that solidarity is one of the most important components in any successful mobilization effort. As such, ethnic identity has typically been treated as an essential basis for bonding a minority community and helping them to pursue their common goals. Paradoxically, given the nature of diversity within Asian American communities, the challenge of how to transcend Asian nationalism into a Pan-Asian American identity for ethnic mobilization purposes has become a black box in the Asian American community research and practice literature.

Vo contends that that community mobilization occurs and is shaped by the larger demographic, socioeconomic and political environment which causes ethnic minorities, in this case, Asian Americans, to respond to the needs and crises that emerge and threaten the overall well-being of the community as a whole. It is in this context that this interesting book provides a detailed account of how Asian Americans mobilized themselves in San Diego through coalition building both within and across different groups making an Asian American ethnic identity possible.

Using what Vo refers to as an interactive mobilization model, different examples of mobilization effort are discussed. These include the development of social services to meet the special needs of the immigrants at the neighborhood level, protests about Anti-Asian images in the media at the cultural level, the demand for access to resources at the economic level, the fight for the inclusion of representation at the political level, and the preservation of a historic district at the geographic and historic levels. She documents the different processes, strategies, conflicts and results of these mobilization efforts in transforming the Asian American community by creating solidarity in San Diego.

Vo’s book sheds important light on community mobilization on the basis of ethnicity in a diverse society. There is no single approach or strategy of mobilization effort that can be applied in all settings. In building alliances and setting agendas, community leaders and activists must pay particular attention to the interplay between the commonalities as well as differences among the stakeholders. The author also shows how community workers need to handle key issues related to community interest. The author has much to offer community organizers. This thoughtful and insightful book is a useful addition to the limited literature on community mobilization among ethnic minorities in general, and Asian Americans in particular.

Julian Chun-Chung Chow, University of California, Berkeley

COPYRIGHT 2005 Western Michigan University, School of Social Work

COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group