Asian Critical Race Theory as an Analytical Framework

This week’s guest blogger is Ji Hyun Hong, who is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia in Language and Literacy Education. Ji Hyun is a transnational Korean who has been traveling back and forth between Korea and the United States since the age of seven. Her continued experiences with racism in the U.S and meeting brave, social justice-oriented Asian American scholars have inspired her research interests. Accordingly, her research focuses on how Korean American adolescents (ages 14-17) critically read and make meaning of Asian American middle grade and young adult novels that address race, racism, and ethnic identity. She hopes that empathic spaces to have race-based conversations will be healing and empowering for the Korean American students she works with.

View Ji Hyun Hong talking about Asian Critical Race Theory as an analytical framework

Or read the transcript

Hello everyone, my name is Hong Ji Hyun, but you can call me Ji. I’m a PhD candidate in language and literacy education with a focus on children’s literature and literacies. Today I wanted to talk to you about how to do a qualitative analysis, particularly using Asian critical race theory or AsianCrit as an analytical framework. First, I’ll introduce to you what AsianCrit is, and use a part of my pilot study data that I’ve been working with, to demonstrate how to code and analyze Asian Americans’ voices that can inform you to better understand and listen to the stories of the marginalized community.

What is AsianCrit?

So what is AsianCrit? Now, AsianCrit is used for analytical, theoretical, and methodological frameworks. Although in this presentation, I will focus on using AsianCrit as more of an analytical tool. Now, AsianCrit is a theoretical branch extending from critical race theory and critical race theory rose from the mid-1970s as an offshoot of critical legal studies in which scholars like Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, and Richard Delgado, recognize that even after the Civil Rights Movement, the legal system for black Americans was very slow, or that they were returning to the state before the fight for equality. So critical race theory reveals this complex interplay among race, racism and American law. And it is also a practice, research, and training that commits to the fight for social justice, and anti-subordination. And the core belief of critical race theorists is that race and racism are endemic to the United States society.

As I said before, Asian critical theory or AsianCrit is an offset, a branch of CRT. Now, Iftikar and Museus in 2013, delineated seven tenets of AsianCrit, and they particularly set it to be used in education, but now it’s being used in other fields. And again, AsianCrit examines how racism affects the everyday lives of Asian Americans in the United States, both personally and institutionally. So it’s relatively new. That’s why I had to read some of the publications out there to help me, but also consult with an AsianCrit theorist (Dr. Sohyun An) here in Georgia to really help me think through things as I coded and analyzed it. So I wanted to let you know that there is a lot more to be explored in AsianCrit and there’s not a specific, very clear instruction of how to do such an analysis.

Seven Tenets of AsianCrit

To briefly explained the seven tenets, the four you see here are built upon the tenets of CRT to reflect Asian American lives and their racial realities. And the three later combines or repetition of the original CRT that is also applicable to examining Asian American issues and experiences. So to quickly go through the first one is Asianization, in which Asian Americans in the US are usually lumped into this monolithic group as model minorities or perpetual foreigners. The second, we have the idea of transnational context, that in America, they don’t consider the various current and historical experiences that impact Asian Americans and the position, and their position and how racism influences their experiences. Third, is strategic (anti)essentialism. So this means that while ethnic group coalition is really beneficial for social justice, there also needs to be a disaggregation of data. We were really trying to understand specific ethnic groups in the US, and then of course, coming together for the benefit of the whole Asian American is also necessary. Then fourth, we have reconstructive history, which realizes that the history of Asian Americans have been told in more a white majoritarian perspective, while omitting or distorting Asian American experiences that need to be redressed or reanalyzed.

Now we have the three that are based off of CRT. First, we have intersectionality, that racism and other forms of oppression work together to shape and condition, the experience of Asian Americans. Then we have story theory and praxis. It’s the relationship between the stories from the marginalized community that are rarely heard, and how it’s being told. And how these stories guide and practice should be guide and guide and practice for change. Then we have, of course, the commitment for social justice, that it aims to that what we do these research, these stories are aimed to empower underrepresented groups towards liberation.

How to Use AsianCrit as an Analytical Framework

Now, how do we use AsianCrit as an analytical framework? So this is where I’m going to pull out some excerpts from my pilot study that I did and show you a bit of how I, I coded and analyzed and interpreted my data. And again, it’s been quite experimental and a, quite a good experience. And through this presentation, it’s, it’s come more clear to me and I hope that I do the same for many of you.

Inductive Open Coding

So just to give you a background, my research question was based off of a critical lens, looking at race and racism. So the question was, how do Korean American students address race and racism in Asian American young adult and middle grades literature? With that said, I first went with an inductive open coding in order to not miss anything that they said in recognizing race or racism. And this included stereotypes. And as a reminder, this is a specific excerpt that was pulled because it was successfully analyzed using AsianCrit through the inductive and deductive process. Let’s look at what Albert is self-identifying Korean American said, as he talked about his experience meeting a white student in his new school. So the white student says, Oh, where are you from? And I said, Jamestown, and he’s saying no, I mean, like, where are you from? Oh, where, which country are you from? And I said, US and he said, What country is your, are your parents from? And I told him like Korean, and he’s like, is that Chinese? The conversation kept going, and he like, finally found out that Korea is a country. So I found three parts to code here. So the first part is that the non-recognition of his American identity, that even though he, Albert, he was raised, born and raised in America, this white friend asked him, Where are you from? And then even when he said US, he continued to ask about where he is from. And then when he identifies his ethnicity, or his parents’ mother country, then there’s this idea that it’s same as China. So then there’s this non-recognition of Korean identity that occurs here, and also in this part, as well, where he has to continue to explain what Korea is, that Korea is a country. And these two codes are actually very repetitive and shared by many of the students that were in my study as well.

Deductive Coding

Now the second thing I did, now that I have an open coding, and I’m using AsianCrit as an analytical framework, so I’m going to use the codes that have been adapted from some of the concepts from the tenets of AsianCrit at this point. So if you remember back, one of the tenets was Asianization, the first one where in the US, they put all the Asians, lump them as one as either model minorities or threats or foreigners. So this idea of lumping all Asian ethnic groups together for me, here in this number two section, the first codes of the not recognizing American identity as perpetual, I outlined it as a perpetual foreigner. Okay. And the second part he talked about, about not recognizing Korean identity, and there’s no particular terminology, or a specific concept, or a key word within Asianization, but I knew he meant there, the ethnic differences wasn’t recognized, right, they were being lumped into one. So this idea that ethnic differences were not accounted for. And so I put that as ethnic differences.

Using AsianCrit

Now that the codes were categorized into specific concepts, the next thing I did was to ask, alright, so where do these concepts come from? And in this third part, I analyzed the spoken words under these concepts based on the tenets of AsianCrit to understand the students’ racialized experiences. I knew that perpetual foreigner, right, the code that I made and the ethnic differences, these were part of the tenet of Asianization. And again, Asianization, the first tenet means that Asian Americans are put into this big one umbrella, as categorized as model minorities, yellow peril, and perpetual foreigners.

And from here, what you have to do is a little bit more digging into resources. For me, I looked at papers from psychology and education and how model minority myth or specifically here how categorizing Asian American students into one ethnic group, or one single race erases their identity. I want to emphasize that essentially what CRT is and allows you to do is to use such tenets to guide you to understand how race and racism is experienced by marginalized community here specifically Asian Americans, and even to go further to dig into other fields to explore sociology, psychology, education, these doing these interdisciplinary work, to, to, to really examine how stereotypes, stereotypes affect Asian American students everyday lives.


When I was done with my point 1,2,3, then I was able to really come up with this interpretation of Albert, which is summarized here. Albert felt his Korean identity was largely ignored but doubly erased as an American, a question like, where are you from? is microaggression or a subtle form of racism, in which members of the dominant society perceives native-born Americans like Albert s foreign, Hence, Albert is burdened not only to explain his ethnicity but his nationality in the country that is his home. So as you saw labeling this as perpetual foreigner, or ethnic differences and pulling, putting that together under this umbrella of Asianization is going to really help me explain what has affected Albert in his life as he spoke these words. And so I’m bringing in these new words such as microaggression, or feeling foreign. And these words have helped me conceptualize and to understand how race and racism have functioned in Albert’s life and other students’ spoken words that I have analyzed. And also, throughout the data, I’ve also realized that not only are they going through racism, but they do a lot to resist these narratives. And so then I also see them as counternarratives as well.

AsianCrit is still relatively new

As I said, from the very beginning, AsianCrit is relatively new. So I think people who use AsianCrit really need to be brave to explore and recognize the various racial experiences of Asian Americans that can inform our future research and also help to eradicate racial oppressions. Thank you again for paying attention and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Bye.


Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (1993). Critical race theory: An annotated bibliography. Virginia law review, 461-516.

Bell, D. A. (1995). Who’s afraid of critical race theory. University of Illinois Law Review, 4, 893-910.

Museus, S. D., & Iftikar, J. (2013). An Asian critical theory (AsianCrit) framework. Asian American students in higher education31(10), 18-29.

Iftikar, J. S., & Museus, S. D. (2018). On the utility of Asian critical (AsianCrit) theory in the field of education. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 31(10), 935-949.

Solorzano, D. G., & Yosso, T. J. (2001). Critical race and LatCrit theory and method: Counter-storytelling. International journal of qualitative studies in education14(4), 471-495.

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