In the summer of 2016, I was on my way out of a roommate welcome party, and Pastor Tyler Sit was on his way in. We introduced ourselves, but that was it.
A year later, I was sitting in a coffee shop. I had a job, but the work wasn’t satisfying my soul, or my values, or anything. In fact, I had taken the day off from work because I just didn’t feel like being at the office any more.
In walked Tyler Sit and I started a conversation with him. I don’t even remember what we really talked about. I just know that at the end of our conversation, both of us wanted a follow up conversation. For me, it was because it was important for me to talk to Asian Americans and I felt our values were very closely aligned.
When we next spoke, he brought up an internship opportunity at New City Church. The Church was in (desperate) need of someone who could help with operations and finances. It just so happened that my background was in accounting and I had operations experience.
Since then, I’ve learned and gained so much from Pastor Tyler Sit and the New City Church community. My leadership ability has expanded. I’ve both helped and watched the community grow. I’m deeply thankful for Pastor Tyler Sit in many ways, including his role in…
As there are three co-founders, there are three different origin stories. Here is mine…
The idea came in stages. (It’s still incubating and maturing even now!)
The first stage was being in a space that was centered around both social justice and POCI. I saw how relieving it could be for all of us to just be ourselves.
The second stage was being in a space that was centered around social justice, POCI, and writing/literature. I saw how powerful writing could be for our healing.
The third stage was being in a space that was centered around Asian Americans. I saw how important it was we be able to speak from a specifically Asian American experience.
The fourth stage was realizing I wasn’t aware of any Asian American writing spaces in my area. I saw this as an undeserved community that I was uniquely positioned to serve. This led to the synthesis of an organization centered around writing/literature, Asian Americans (and by extension, social justice).
Pastor Tyler Sit introduced me to the other co-founder Daniel (I think they met at a Caribbean restaurant?), and Daniel in turn pulled in our third co-founder, Victoria.
The three of us met at Daniel’s house one evening after work. His family’s dining room table is where the Asian American Literary Collective was formally born.
I was frustrated with the negativity on social media. I was frustrated that Asian American news seemed to only revolved around us suffering racist experiences, an Asian woman suffering sexual abuse, or how yet another white actor/actress was in yellowface. I was frustrated that many of us (Asian Americans) seemed to think of ourselves based on our proximity to Whiteness, instead of part of a rich, beautiful, and deep culture.
Yes, those negative experiences are a part of our lives as Asian Americans that need justice…AND I have so much joy in my life as well. I wanted to see more Asian Americans committing to each other’s health, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wanted to see more positivity for and from Asian Americans. I wanted to see Asian Americans building and growing with each other.
So I started writing little love notes to Asia America on square yellow Post-It notes (don’t you see how fitting it is?). The name came from ASIan AMerican INSPiratiOn. This is inspiration for Asian Americans, as you are.
Note: I love doing collaborations with other Asian Americans, or any other Asians in the diaspora. Please reach out to me!
My friend Tri had previously posted articles he had written on this website. I took a look around and I loved the thoughtful, pop-culture influenced pieces. Later on, I started to feel this urgent need to write from an Asian American, cis, straight, male perspective that is not fueled by toxic masculinity. This is a perspective I feel that is often missing within social justice conversations, and one that I wanted to see more of. Additionally, as we have more conversations on deconstructing toxic masculinity, I believe the identity Asian men occupy should be an extremely important view point.