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30 Books by Writers of Color Redefining the Term "All-American"

What comes to mind when someone is described as "all-American"? They're probably physically healthy, maybe blonde, and definitely white. This image isn't neutral: By associating the American identity with whiteness, we allow whiteness to dictate our definition of "normal," of "us" versus "other." This is dangerous to people who don't have that "all-American" look.
But what if our idea of "all-American" was actually . . . all-American? Identity is a multitude; reading more broadly into the American experience can help us create a truer, less oppressive image of who is considered American. The following list collects a few of the infinite narratives that complicate our understanding of the "all-American" identity. They encapsulate what I hope is a wide berth of experiences, genres, and intersections—written from people who identify as American or have experienced the reality of living in the U.S.
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1
Brutal Imagination (Cornelius Eady)
Brutal Imagination (Cornelius Eady)
2
The Book of Unknown Americans (Cristina Henriquez)
The Book of Unknown Americans (Cristina Henriquez)
3
The Good Immigrant (Nikesh Shul;A)
The Good Immigrant (Nikesh Shul;A)
4
What We Lose (Zinzi Clemmons)
What We Lose (Zinzi Clemmons)
5
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (Chen Chen)
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (Chen Chen)
6
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (Randa Jarrar)
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (Randa Jarrar)
7
When I Was Puerto Rican (Esmeralda Santiago)
When I Was Puerto Rican (Esmeralda Santiago)
8
Heavy (Kiese Laymon)
Heavy (Kiese Laymon)
9
Whereas (Layli Long Soldier)
Whereas (Layli Long Soldier)
10
America Is Not the Heart (Elaine Castillo)
America Is Not the Heart (Elaine Castillo)
11
Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family (Mitchell S. Jackson)
Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family (Mitchell S. Jackson)
12
Monstress (Tenorio)
Monstress (Tenorio)
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13
Mean (Myriam Gurba)
Mean (Myriam Gurba)
14
Isako Isako (Mia Ayumi Malhotra)
Isako Isako (Mia Ayumi Malhotra)
15
Heads of the Colored People (Nafissa Thompson-Spires)
Heads of the Colored People (Nafissa Thompson-Spires)
16
How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? (Moustafa Bayoumi)
How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? (Moustafa Bayoumi)
17
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (Jesmyn Ward)
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race (Jesmyn Ward)
18
There There (Tommy Orange)
There There (Tommy Orange)
19
Friday Black (Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah)
Friday Black (Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah)
20
Good Talk (Mira Jacob)
Good Talk (Mira Jacob)
21
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Terrance Hayes)
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Terrance Hayes)
22
Native Speaker (Chang-Rae Lee)
Native Speaker (Chang-Rae Lee)
23
Olio (Tyehimba Jess)
Olio (Tyehimba Jess)
24
If You See Me, Don't Say Hi (Neel Patel)
If You See Me, Don't Say Hi (Neel Patel)
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25
Don't Call Us Dead: Poems (Danez Smith)
Don't Call Us Dead: Poems (Danez Smith)
26
Under the Feet of Jesus (Helena Maria Viramontes)
Under the Feet of Jesus (Helena Maria Viramontes)
27
Dear America: Notes From an Undocumented Citizen (Jose Antonio Vargas)
Dear America: Notes From an Undocumented Citizen (Jose Antonio Vargas)
28
Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Christopher Soto (Editor))
Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Christopher Soto (Editor))
29
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (Dinaw Mengestu)
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (Dinaw Mengestu)
30
Everyday People: The Color of Life (Edited by Jennifer Baker)
Everyday People: The Color of Life (Edited by Jennifer Baker)
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