When I was initially approached to Guest Edit for EFNIKS’ May issue, I wavered initially. I immediately knew how big an undertaking it would be, starting with simply the name of the month. April had “EARTH,” and March had “MIND.” But “AAPI?” That wouldn’t work. Some call this AAPIHM & APAHM (Asian-American Pacific Islander History/Heritage Month) or use another variation: API, APA, AAPINH… no one agrees. It’s different at every turn. I couldn’t and wouldn’t use any of these, knowing the continued conflation with and erasure of my Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, and Indigenous siblings. It seemed impossible, but the EFNIKS team told me: You have our support. We are here to build. And so I said “Yes!” But what to name it?
I thought about the celebration of East Asian super-athletes at the Olympics and American Exceptionalism. I thought about “-asian” “activism” (“represent-asian,” “asian sens-asian,” etc.). I thought about rampant anti-Blackness in our communities, of Akai Gurley and Peter Liang. I thought about my immigrant Filipino parents who never taught me Tagalog. I thought about how impossible it would be to consciously create a collection of essays under any kind of “AAPI” related acronym. And so we didn’t.
We created REMODEL.
While many publications take on the “Asian themed” essays, and celebrate with lists of accomplished Asians (full disclosure: I was on one of those lists for NBC in 2017), EFNIKS.com’s REMODEL Cover Story focuses specifically on queer and trans experiences of Pacific Islander and Asian humans. This month’s contributors create a collection fiercely intent on not only re-modeling / flipping / reversing / and turning on its head what “being Asian” is, but also what it is not. Here, for REMODEL month, we are here to tell you: We are NOT your model minority.
The “model minority” myth is fearlessly broken down by our two Deep Dives. One focuses on the true value of representation, in reference to affirmative action as well as the upcoming Crazy Rich Asians film. The other indicts the “model minority” concept as a model of supremacy; one that is complicit in anti-Blackness and proximity to whiteness; which warns against the dangers of cishet Asian male figureheads and the erasure of marginalized voices within our communities. Together, these scholarly interrogations provide a basis of understanding for the collection’s personal essays.
In our Stories of US, our contributors have brought us pieces are tied together by interrogating Western beauty standards, familial relationships, and (mis)understanding of language and religion. We bear witness to the ways in which our contributors both experienced and continue to experience the “model minority” ideal and describe the expectations, confusion, and surprises with which this myth permeate not just race/ethnicity, but the additional layer of queerness and transness.
And to bring even more nuance to our discussion, we have an extended interview with Dr Anthony Ocampo, author of the book, “The Latinos of Asia: How Filipinos Break The Rules of Race”. This interview brings even more life to REMODEL’s mission to elevate the full breadth of our experiences.
This platform provided by EFNIKS is a special, unique one. In times of distress leading up to publishing, the EFNIKS team (especially Chief and Niq) never waivered with encouragement. My vision for REMODEL Cover Story was to bring voices from my communities who do not normally get the chance to be heard, even during a month dedicated specifically to us. It was never to fulfill quotas or cover all bases for marginalized Pacific Islander and Asian queer/trans folks. There so many more stories and experiences live under the imperfect “AAPI” umbrella of queer and trans folks; I hope that this collection shows not only are we not a monolith, but that we have so much more to share. More than anyone could imagine possible.
Now, it is my turn to say to you: You, whose story is yearning to be told, who wants to create what they don’t yet see in the world:
You have my support.