The book's contributors include journalist SuChin Pak, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz, comic book artist Trung Le Nguyen, and tech innovator Ellen K. Pao

In the introduction to the new book My Life: Growing Up Asian in America, journalist and podcast host SuChin Pak details the struggles she faced when she was an MTV News correspondent in the early 2000s — the first Asian American reporter for the network at the time.

"When I encountered inequality or unfair treatment because I was a woman and/or Asian American, I doubled down on nice or made jokes to defuse the tension," she writes. "When it was really bad, I remained in what I imagined was dignified silence. I had convinced myself that if I voiced my dissatisfaction or anger, I would be jeopardizing my career." Later she realizes, "the shame, anger, and fear I was dealing with at this stage in my life have transformed the way I define courage today. I started to ask myself, What will happen if I stop complying? What will happen if I stop smiling and being nice? It is terrifying to ask these questions but it's courageous."

SuChin Pak
Credit: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Pak, and the thirty creators who contributed to My Life — including bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz, tech innovator Ellen K. Pao and comic book artist Trung Le Nguyen — reflect on their coming-of-age experiences in America, through essays, poems and comics edited by CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment). Entertainment Weekly and the newly relaunched MTV Books celebrated the publication on May 23 with an event at The Fig House in Los Angeles that featured performances by contributors Nathan Ramos-Park and David Kwong.

My Life: Growing Up Asian in America
My Life: Growing Up Asian in America book cover
| Credit: MTV Books

Though much has changed in the two decades since Pak's groundbreaking stint at MTV, the struggle is far from over. But recent books like My Life and Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now offer both storytelling and strength. At the L.A. event, Christian Trimmer, head of MTV Books read an email a young fan sent to Pak: "I often think about moments from my childhood that made me feel ashamed about my racial background, features or habits—and sometimes I still experience shame about how I reacted (or failed to react) in those moments. This book is helping me realize how connected so many of us are in our feelings of isolation. I'm proud to be part of the Asian diaspora."

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