Julia Lee is a Korean American writer, scholar, and teacher. She is the author of Our Gang: A Racial History of “The Little Rascals” and The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel, as well as the novel By the Book, which was published under the pen name Julia Sonneborn. She is an associate professor of English at Loyola Marymount University, where she teaches African American and Caribbean literature. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.
When Julia Lee was fifteen, her hometown went up in smoke during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The daughter of Korean immigrant store owners in a predominantly Black neighborhood, Julia was taught to be grateful for the privilege afforded to her. However, the acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of Rodney King, following the murder of Latasha Harlins by a Korean shopkeeper, forced Julia to question her racial identity and complicity. She was neither Black nor white. So who was she?
With prose by turns scathing and heart-wrenching, in Biting the Hand, Julia Lee lays bare the complex disorientation and shame that stems from this country’s imposed racial hierarchy to argue that Asian Americans must leverage their liminality for lasting social change alongside Black and brown communities.