Taking stock is an important part of the creative process. Painters, lost in their lines and the mixture of colors, need to take a step back once in a while to see how the larger piece is coming together. With the close of As I Am’s second thematic series, we decided it was good and right to step back and celebrate where we are.
Our main goal in putting out the second call was to curate writing that forged a more rigorous, dynamic, and positive-facing PAAC identity. We have become accustomed to reading and writing about our experiences from an “in-between” space: neither Asian nor American, neither black nor white, just somewhere in between all these defined experiences. We’ve published stories that reflected well on these exact themes. And while great art has always emerged from liminal spaces, we challenged our writers to kick open the doors, define their identities not in the absence of something, but as an expression of who we are: a diverse and complex people whose identities and journeys take more than one tale in the telling.
Over the past 9 months, we asked our writers to help us navigate the complicated cultural and generational boundaries that give shape to our familial relationships. Our writers interrogated the intersections of gender and class with our PAAC identities. In a broader cultural context that tends to flatten APIDA identities, we tasked our writers to expand readers’ imaginations of who we are both in our work and outside of it. As I Am also collaborated with members of PAAC Fam (PAAC’s LGBTQIA+ subgroup) in May 2019 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots through a curated collection of reflections and poetry inspired by the Pride flag.
We owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to our volunteer writers who gifted us their voices and talents to make this collaborative venture possible: Violet Lee, Naomi Lee, Marsha Ungchusri, Hannah Hong Frelot, Sung Tse, Danielle Hyesu Kwon, Becky Lai, Dae Jeong, Jennifer Duann Fultz, Virginia Duan, Xeres Villanueva, Daniel Seunghyun Cho, Stella Won Phelps, and Luz Lorenzana Twigg. And a very special thank you to Mickey Beatima who guest edited the special issue commemorating the Stonewall riots as well as other contributors from PAAC fam: Valor Grimm, Elizabeth Quashie, Ellen Huang, Steve Ambo, and other writers who chose to make their contributions anonymously. Each essay, collection, poem, and reflection helped our community better understand that we don’t just occupy liminal spaces, but rather, a space all our own. Yours was truly a labor of love. Thank you for sharing these spaces with us.
Incredibly, As I Am has, to date, collected two years’ worth (CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!) of writing from our very own community members. Over the next few months, we will take stock of where we are by revisiting these pieces before we enter the third phase of our collaboration. If you, or someone you know may want to contribute to this written legacy, pass them our way at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, as we close out the year, we wish to thank you, the reader, for walking with us on this journey. We hope that you continue to engage with us as we explore new themes that illuminate what it means to be a PAAC. We look forward to reading your work and sharing with you you in 2020.
Katherine Kwong and Christopher Paek
As I Am co-editors