Happy Birthday To Plan A!

The Plan A founding team reflects on our first year.

Latest Podcast Celebrity, Adoption, and Power — ft. Yasmin Nair ('Escape From Plan A' Ep. 261)
by Plan A Editors

Recently, Plan A turned the grand old age of one year old. It may have actually been a little over a week ago, but like a forgetful parent who makes up for it with a Nintendo 64, it’s all good!

None of us had any experience in writing online or podcasting, but we knew we couldn’t stay quiet any longer. What began as an uncertain venture has now become a mainstay in our day-to-day lives and, we hope, in others’ as well. We’ve made it through the first year and we’re here for the long run.

Here are some thoughts from the founding members.

Last August, I sat with Oriana, my best friend since childhood, in my family’s kitchen editing her piece “Beautiful Pain,” set for inclusion in Plan A’s launch later that week. Her essay is to me, to this day, one of the smartest pieces I have ever read on Asian American suburbia and “safe” self-conceptualization. I knew that her piece would demand others to challenge themselves by pointing at what they refuse to see with truly enviable style. Essay after essay, podcast after podcast, I realize that this particular quality defines Plan A. The theses we pen hold significance because it makes what is felt known — yet I am continually surprised by the eloquence, nuance, and diversity of each opinion expressed. Plan A is exactly the publication I wish I, my peers, and my role models grew up reading. Plan A is the cultural conversation I wished I was smart enough to have. And Plan A as it stands now is still only the tip of the iceberg; it’s been, after all, a year. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

— Christina

I was just in New York for a hot end-of-summer week, not unlike the one we had when we gathered together in a Lower East Side hangout to pen the Plan A “manifesto” and put together the finishing touches on the site launch. I just exclaimed to Teen how remarkable it is that, despite Asians being under 6% of the country’s population, there hasn’t really been a week when there wasn’t some event, good or bad, in Asian America that got the Plan A slack buzzing, resulting in an article or a pod or a tweet storm or just ideas being slow-cooked for later.

I feel like we’ve made a big first splash and got people online (Asian or otherwise) listening and maybe even talking about stuff we’re not allowed to talk about. Here’s to another year of irritating the powers-that-be by exercising our right to speak the fuck up about things that are on all of our minds. This is a bit cliché but… Plan A is just getting started.


My, my what a year. A lot has changed since this time last year, a lot still needs to change, and much is still the same. Trump is still President, but good news is Plan A is one now! Last year I started out quietly, little to say not from lack of opinions but lack of ways to articulate the budding sense of disquiet and wrongness prevalent in all the places I had grown up looking to for security and guidance.

More urgently I saw the ways in which harmful false narratives and outdated (even if right minded) rhetoric were driving divides where there had previously been none and deepening existing rifts. The first year of Plan A was a time of learning, of creating bonds with people of common principles more than common opinions, of quietly but insistently pressing for new avenues of thought. The second year comes on us at an exciting if also scary time and I look forward to another season of growth and opinion-crafting in ways that hopefully feel new and deeply familiar.

— Jess

It’s been a year of non-stop exploration for me. The discussion’s just getting started and I’m looking forward to see where it goes and more importantly, what changes. Asians have never been so relevant politically and culturally in the US so it’s an exciting time simmering with both anxiety and hope. May we live in interesting times indeed.

I’m encouraged to see more participation and support coming from the community. It’s not conflict-free, it’s clear there’s things we as a community need to work out, but the important thing is that more AsAm are participating and taking action. It’s my hope that we can start to determine for ourselves what our issues are and examine the AsAm experience in relation to American society more critically than we are now. It’s time for us to find our own voice and our own talking points instead of letting others tell us what to talk about and how to talk about it.

— Jong

When Plan A was in the planning stages, I felt exhilarated. I felt like that finally a significant step was being made in the next evolution of the Asian American political and social movement. Not an escape from the past, but a genesis from the cream of the crop.

After only one year, the Plan A project has gone better than I could’ve ever hoped. I am humbled to be a part of it, with such a brave and transformative group of people. There are exciting developments to come and I can’t wait.

— Mark

When I first joined Plan A last August, I had no idea what to expect. I’d watched many fledgling magazines — and ideas for magazines — start out ambitious and well intentioned, only never to get off the ground when the time came. But Plan A has not only stayed afloat, but thrived. It’s been so exciting watching the magazine grow and evolve over the past year, and I’ve learned so much from its editors, contributors, and community and their refusal to settle for easy opinions and reductive stances. Wherever Plan A goes next, I know it will be with verve, nerve, and eloquence. I can’t wait.

— Oriana

Because of Plan A, it really does feel as if I’ve said and done more in the past year than in the rest of my life combined. All the things I’ve thought and wanted to say, I get to now write and podcast about. Too many Asian Americans are afraid of our own thoughts and don’t even value our own perspectives and lived experiences. But once you let it out and you see the world doesn’t end, you can’t stop. There’s no way I’m ever going back to the way it used to be.

So thankful to everyone on the team here who jumped into the darkness together. It’s pretty cool how close we’ve all become. And also to the people who’ve supported us and have even come aboard.

— Chris

To think that we started this project an entire year ago really baffles my mind. Reading our manifesto and knowing how far we’ve come really makes my heart soar and pushes me to contribute to the conversation in a way that is meaningful and even more importantly, lasting. Plan A was an opportunity for each of us to bridge the gap between the different types of people within the Asian-American space. It continues to offer us a chance of redeeming the political heritage of what it means to be a yellow or brown face on a white continent.

Our efforts at Plan A are undoubtedly a result of the love that we have for doing what we do but especially because of the audience that enjoys our work. We simply would not be doing this during the ounces of free time we had if it meant that it didn’t mean something to someone out there. My hope is that in some small fashion, we inspire other Asian-Americans to take charge in their own communities and force discussions on issues others are too cowardly to even glance at. There’s so much more to be done. Let’s get to it.

— Q

One year just went by and we really had a lot more success than I expected. I always had faith that we were seeing the daylight of something new. I just didn’t think we’d cover as much ground as we have in such a short time.

The most rewarding aspect of this whole thing is knowing that we don’t have to just accept what’s being written and said about Asian Americans in bigger media outlets and in the mainstream. It’s so frustrating seeing how incomplete a lot of that stuff is. It’s most frustrating in how it leaves out the viewpoints of the great majority of regular Asian Americans who are just busy working or going to school or raising families. I take it as a personal mission that Plan A represents those missing perspectives well.

Everytime I see or read something that’s just wrong, incomplete or biased, I’m so thankful we decided to start Plan A. We don’t have to just vent our frustration. We can correct it, complete it, or call it out. And I’m so happy to have heard from and met people who support what we’re doing, especially those decided to throw in and contribute their time and words as well.

— Teen

Like this article by Plan A Editors, Christina Qiu, Filip Guo, Jess Rhee, Jong Kim, Adam Goodman, Oriana Tang, Chris Jesu Lee, Q, and Five Alive?

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Published 6 years ago

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