Here’s a radical idea: what if Asian Americans stopped trying to be either white or black or whatever, and instead, Asian? Almost the whole Plan A gang — Eliza, Chris, Filip, Mark, Jong, Teen, and Jess — kicks off the podcast by talking about how we got started and where we go from here.
The following are edited excerpts from “The Birth of a Notion”, the FIRST episode of Plan A’s podcast, Escape From Plan A!
We found that a lot of other Asian publications had to do with straight-up personal stories, fashion, media… Not so much about politics or deep identity issues. If they were identity issues, they were often about personal stories that were very basic. They followed the same tropes about “Oh, I was a kid who had a hard time in school, or parents who were strict.” The same tropes about Asian Americans you hear all the time.
Going forward, what do we want to accomplish with Plan A? I think everyone agrees here what we really need, whether it’s politics or culture, is a unique Asian American viewpoint. Because for too long, all we’ve ever done is latch onto existing narratives or viewpoints, always showing up as supporting characters, saying “Me too! We feel the same way!” It’s boring and nobody takes us seriously. And it doesn’t foster any reason to identify as Asian American because all we are is some simulation or imitation of somebody else.
For me, it’s about how we can get young people thinking and talking about these things? In a way that’s fun and approachable? Not academic-sounding articles. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to read that growing up.
That’s the great thing about the group of people we have. Not only are we geographically diverse, but we also have different experiences growing up. Like in an enclave like Jess, or myself who’s an adoptee who looks Asian but grew up with white people.
With social media, there’s a consumer aspect, where you’re simply looking at pictures and videos. But there’s also a communication component to it. And that’s what’s so valuable. The ability to hear about something the moment that somebody posts it. And if you’re not engaging in these online sources, then you’re always going to be behind the curve.
Privileged people want to be able to step into the shoes of the enlightened desperate, so that they can feel that they’ve lived a full experience on this earth. And they look to immigrants and non-white people from lands they imagine to be hellholes and they ask, “What’s it like to be a real gritty human being?” That is exactly why we need to do stuff like Plan A. To stop this shit.
A few years ago, a friend of mine reached out to me. She had just wandered into r/asianamerican, the big portal on Reddit. She was being floored by the level of anger in some of these discussions. She wasn’t sure what she was looking at, so she wanted me to take a look to see what I thought. I’m from L.A. and I grew up in a heavily Asian enclave, so a lot of this was surprisingly new, despite having grown up in a heavily Asian area. There was a huge disconnect in the level of emotion in what I was seeing online and what I was seeing in real life.