Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders
Electoral Politics
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
Violence Against Women
Women & Feminism

Helen Zia is an award-winning journalist and scholar who has covered Asian American communities and social and political movements for decades. She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.

She is also co-author, with Wen Ho Lee, of My Country Versus Me, which reveals what happened to the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for China in the "worst case since the Rosenbergs."

Zia is former Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies. She was named one of the most influential Asian Americans of the decade by A. Magazine.

Zia has received numerous journalism awards for her ground-breaking stories; her investigation of date rape at the University of Michigan led to campus demonstrations and an overhaul of its policies, while her research on women who join neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations provoked new thinking on the relationship between race and gender violence in hate crimes.

A second generation Chinese American, Zia has been outspoken on issues ranging from civil rights and peace to women's rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. In 1997, she testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the racial impact of the news media. She traveled to Beijing in 1995 to the UN Fourth World Congress on Women as part of a journalists of color delegation. She has appeared in numerous news programs and films; her work on the 1980s Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is documented in the Academy Award nominated film, "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" and she was profiled in Bill Moyers' PBS documentary, "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience."

Zia received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law School of the City University of New York for bringing important matters of law and civil rights into public view. She is a graduate of Princeton University's first graduating class of women. She quit medical school after completing two years, then went to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life's work as a writer.


“Helen Zia was an absolutely amazing speaker for our Social Justice Series. She was  very engaging, enlightening and awesome with our students, faculty, staff and community. “
— Gurdeep Hébert, Director of Student Success, Equity & Outreach, Clovis Community College, Fresno CA



"Helen Zia is one of our nation's most original thinkers, and her book serves not only as an invaluable record of a movement but also as a moving and often funny personal memoir.  Asian American Dreams marries social history to literature; it caused me to reflect upon the past, and ask questions about the future."
— David Henry Hwang, Playwright

"An inspiring story of the struggles of Zia and diverse Asian Americans to transform themselves from "aliens" into Americans, their fervent and hopeful "dreams" of equality unfurled before the winds of the coming multicultural millennium."
— Ronald Takaki, Author of Strangers from a Different Shore

"Helen Zia has produced what many of us were waiting for - an honest, scholarly, yet intensely personal book about the transformation of Asian America.  She deftly interweaves the remarkable history of a people with her own unique journey as a pioneer activist and writer.  The result - Asian American Dreams - is a fresh and incisive narrative, epic in its sweep, thrilling in its verve and clarity."
— Iris Chang, Author of The Rape of Nanking

"Zia has given us a way to examine the gritty reality of what it takes to strengthen a voice from within America, from student organizing movements, the prosecution of hate crimes, advocacy for equality of job opportunities, to an examination of intergenerational tensions."
— Angela E. Oh, Attorney, Former Member, Advisory Board to the President's Initiative on Race

"Dreams is a wonderful, sophisticated, lively sociohistorical biography of Asian Pacific Americans fighting back to broaden the human rights of U.S. citizens and immigrants alike.  Herein Helen Zia emerges as the foremost activist-chronicler of the eighties and nineties."
— John Kuo Wei Tchen, Professor, New York University, Author of New York Before Chinatown

"Powerful and encompassing.  For the first time, I feel as if I am not an outsider reading about other communities.  This is the first comprehensive account of the Asian Pacific American political movement that my generation has the power and position to shape."
— Kaying Yang, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

"Part memoir, part theory, part call to action - this book swept me away."
— Mari Matsuda, Author of We Won't Go Back

  • Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People
  • From Minority to Majority, Invisible to Envisioning
  • Building Bridges Across Communities
  • Making Ourselves Visible in the New Millennium
  • The Imperative for Higher Expectations