Banana looks to bring shine to the Asian Americans who don’t fit the stereotypes.
I was in Reed Space a few weeks ago and I stumbled upon an interesting looking magazine that had a metallic purple cover decorated with cartoon bananas. Like anyone with an ounce of curiosity, I opened the publication to see what kind of of kitschy niche it showcased. I was actually caught off guard when I noticed that everyone featured among the pages were Asian. However, they weren’t some nerdy or fobby Asians, like how mainstream media portrays always us, but instead, they were cool, creative types.
Banana Magazine, the title of the publication, strives to navigate between blurred Eastern and Western boundaries to create a voice for contemporary Asian culture. Started in Chinatown NYC in 2014 by Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho, Banana aims to feature, celebrate, and join the conversation of Asian creatives in a journey to define their collective identity.
The topic of Banana really resonates with me because it touches on the Asian American demographic that I identify with. I’m not the suppressed, awkward bookworm that is inaccurately associated with Asian Americans in media. I’m a creative and adventurous individual who blurs the lines of culture. It’s pretty rare to see a reflection of myself in mass media, so Banana really pulled me into its pages. Every time I see an Asian character on the screen, they never represented me, so I never actually felt proud. That’s why I highly respect Eddie Huang for breaking down walls and shedding light on a demographic of Asian American who are thought leaders, innovative, creative, and most importantly, cool ass people. I don’t want to rant to much on this, as I’ve written a number articles on this topic (here and here), and I rather save my words to promote Banana.
The choice for Banana as the name is pretty clever. It’s a nickname given to first generation Asians Americans growing up in a western world; yellow on the outside, white on the inside, get it? This was their premiere issue and it showcased stories on the hypersexualization of kawaii culture, Ramen recipes, and a photo essay on how to go blonde when you’re Asian.The founders of Banana did an interview with Vice a few months ago, and its worth checking out.
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