Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | More thoughts on the BANANA Conference and the different voices of the Asian American blogosphere
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More thoughts on the BANANA Conference and the different voices of the Asian American blogosphere

With a week before BANANA, the first-ever gathering of Asian American bloggers, I’ve been thinking about Nikkei View’s role, or how I see my voice as part of the AAPI blogosphere.

The beauty of the Internet and of blogging as an avenue for self-expression, is that we can develop not just one mighty chorus of an Asian American voice, but that we can cultivate many, many disparate voices, all with different tones and characters. It’s like jazz — not everyone will play the melody; many prefer to play harmonies, or like the beboppers of old, turn the melody inside out. Some will come up with atonal free jazz; some will play safe and mainstream instrumental soft rock; some are suited for taking fiery, flying solos while others will be content keeping up the steady rhythm that allows the soloists to take off.

Man, I didn’t think I’d stretch the metaphor quite so far…. but it kinda works. My point is, I think of myself as a bridge in that I will write about very mainstream topics like a traditional dance concert, and then get all up in arms about racism or internment or whatever.

I generally keep a mainstream “tone” (but hopefully, never sink to fusion soft jazz crap) and don’t drop f-bombs unless I feel a post needs it to make a point. I started my career as the music editor for Denver’s alternative weekly, so I certainly know how and when to use “fuck” in print.

I’m also pretty cognizant of the fact that I’m probably older than most of the other AAPI voices out there. I started my blog as a column back in 1998, back when there wasn’t much of a chorus of us out there. At the time, it seemed more important — and effective — to be a gentle observer than a radical revolutionary. I’ve also always written with white people in mind as part of my audience, not just Asian Americans.

So today, we have this wonderful cacophony of voices, and some post just short bits and some make videos and some focus on just politics and it’s all great! Wonderful! Some are in-your-face and righteous and some are more laid-back.

I’m looking forward to discussing, with our peers, the variety of voices that have emerged, and to continue to encourage more diversity in our camps.

One thing I’d like to see, is more bloggers embrace their ethnic heritage. So Minority Militant is Laotian and makes it known when it’s pertinent. I write all the time ab out Japanese stuff. I’d love to see Vietnamese Americans blog specifically about their worldview, and Cambodians and Koreans likewise.

That’s how we as Asian Americans will learn more about each other’s reality. Like BANANA organizer Lac Su’s book, “I Love Yous Are for White People”: Many Asian Americans I bet were unaware of the scope of the Vietnamese refugee experience. I’m old enough that I was following it while it happened, and being horrified by the stories of pirates and the difficulty of escape. There have only been a couple of books about the era since, and Lac’s is by far the most gripping.

But even I dropped the narrative after the refugees arrived in America. Maybe with the exception of Oliver Stone’s “Heaven & Earth” (and the book it adapted), there hasn’t been a presence in mainstream pop culture of the Vietnamese American immigrant experience. So his book helped educate me. I think blogs can serve this purpose too, as we get more voices and more perspectives into the mix.

They probably are out there — Korean Americans who write about AAPI issues as well as their heritage, and Cambodians and Vietnamese too — and I just haven’t discovered them yet. I’d like to know who all these people are.

Maybe BANANA will be a great place to start the process of letting all of us “come out” and shine a little bit so we can see each other…. I’m truly excited to be there.