Writing an AAPI Future
Imagining an Asian America through Literature
This issue, conceived and edited by us, Visions2030 Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) members, was born from anger, fear, and grief.
March 16, 2021 saw the Atlanta spa shootings of six Asian women, rocking the Asian community. Throughout 2020, harassment and violence against Asians was experienced across the U.S., spurred by references to “the kung flu” and “China virus.”
Immediately after the Atlanta incident last spring, Visions2030 put together a statement in solidarity, including links for action. But it felt like we should do more. Merely celebrating Asian American Heritage Month didn’t address the richness of AAPI creativity year round.
We asked where the future of Asian America crosses Visions2030’s mission to unleash imaginings toward new paradigms of society. And who better to imagine a cross-class, intergenerational, and multi-racial future than our creative writers? Here we’re presenting an eclectic sampling: an activist/novelist’s address at a New York City march; a writer/cultural leader’s ruminations about the role of the literary; a cross-disciplinary theorist’s soundtrack transformed into a short film.
And while selecting images for this newsletter we grappled with our own concepts of Asian futurism. Should visuals reflect a way to reclaim the essence of a lost past or road not taken? Or should they be a way of integrating the histories we have lived with the destiny we want? How has an Asian future been shaped by the diaspora, by Westernization or globalization? The pictorial story told here represents utopian views grounded in Asian poetics and aesthetics. Our mirror of the future is collaborative (many of these images were co-creations) and in tune with the flows of nature and with our integrated dualities.
Our AAPI future has space for us, is centered in comforting familiarity, and evokes liberating new perspectives.
—Amy Sadao, Community Manager & Ting Y. Lin, Culture & Media Manager
Solidarity in Every Step
Dorotea Mendoza, a writer, community organizer, and Zen practitioner, delivered the following address at the New York protest LOVE WALK: A Call for Action and Solidarity with Asian / Asian American communities on April 11, 2021.
I am an indigenous, immigrant woman from the Philippines. As such I always carry with me the sense of forever being a foreigner, the sense of forever not belonging, the sense of forever not having the rights, the entitlements, the access to resources in this land. I am grateful to those who’ve worked and continue to work on undoing that mindset, on decolonizing that thinking, that mind. For me and many others, this is a daily reality—undoing, decolonizing, stepping through with the dignity of our lived experience, as Asians, as Asian Americans, as Pacific Islanders. I am grateful for the communities that lean on one another in this continuous undoing, decolonizing, and stepping through.
A quarter of a century ago I stood here speaking to a crowd of people also demonstrating against anti-Asian violence.
The anti-Asian violence we’re facing today is nothing new. It’s decades old, centuries old. From the murder of Vincent Chin to the rounding up of Japanese Americans into Japanese Americans into concentration camps to the Chinese Exclusion Act. And then there’s the US-sponsored violence perpetrated outside of the US. Racist, patriarchal, and economic violence that has ravished nations, giving rise to populations needing to get out and migrate.
This past Thursday, I was at the City Hall station waiting for the uptown R train. It was 10:27 in the morning. I knew the time because I kept looking at my watch because I was running late. I was standing on the platform. A woman was walking back and forth in front of me. Agitated. Then she stopped about ten feet away and started yelling, “Are you scared? Are you scared?” She goes to an advertisement billboard and starts punching it. Then she yells again, “Are you scared? You little fucking chink bitch.” I wanted to say, oh, but I’m Filipino, please get your racism right. And I did see that that’s exactly what racism is, what a bias is—it’s profound blindness and ignorance. Also that it comes from a profound sense of isolation, a profound sense of disempowerment, a profound sense of alienation. So, as we walk in community today, calling in love and compassion with every step, I am with you in turning and facing the socio-economic conditions, the societal conditions that lead to an alienation, to a hatred so profound that one human being can slash, beat up, kill another human being. Let’s uproot these conditions, these root causes. In solidarity. With compassion. With discernment. May it be so.
Literature, a Blueprint for a Community
Vandana Pawa is a community-driven writer and educator currently working at the Asian American Writers Workshop.
Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic and racial group in the United States. This rise can be seen in every single state in the country, including where the overall population is shrinking. By the year 2030, the population of Asians in the U.S., which the Pew Research Center currently estimates to be around 19 million people, will increase to nearly 25 million. This surge comes at a time of increasing hate-related violence against the community. So when we envision the future of Asian America through the lens of literature, safety for our community is of the greatest importance. How can we create when our days are rooted in fear? A creative future for Asian America is first and foremost a safer one: with the eradication of poverty and hunger, environmental protection for our lands, and the ability to exist beyond the borders that violently keep us apart.
Click to hear the SpaceTime album, pictured above:
Ask a Chinese Question, Get a Black Answer
….is a 9-minute episode of the Hulu original program Your Attention Please: Initiative 29, which features innovative Black contemporary stories.
The history of racial violence is something I confront everyday in the colonial archive where I read records of the abuses of exploited Asian laborers in the Americas. The pain of the Atlanta murders loomed over this episode’s production. It was on the forefront of mine and the director's minds. Carmen LoBue, who is Afro-Pilipnx, and I talked about how to grapple with anti-Black and anti-Asian trauma while also honoring the vibrant sociality of Afro-Asian life. “Ask a Chinese Question, Get a Black Answer” is a reminder that solidarity is a matter of politics and family for those for whom Black and Asian are not mutually exclusive categories of identification.
Tao Leigh Goffe is a writer, DJ, and Assistant Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural History at Cornell University in the Departments of Africana Studies and the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
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