Welp, there’s not a whole lot I can add to AZNHeartthrob’s thorough post, and I’m pretty much in agreement with what he wrote. I’ll just add a few additional thoughts:
To get out of the way what has arguably turned into the most infamous aspect of the event: Yes, I was sitting close to MM during the panel and I would say he was a disruption, especially to those sitting next to him. I certainly didn’t appreciate having my first comment interrupted — in which I referenced an all-Asian American male podcast that considered interracial dating the primary concern of the Asian American gender divide — by MM yelling at me “C’mon, don’t throw us under the bus!” (MM, please don’t make assumptions about my sexual politics- you would probably be surprised). But I think that day was not a good representation of who MM is or his generally compelling perspectives and writing. And I do respect his heartfelt and honest apology (big ups to Lady Militant for taking a stand), as well as the other times we all hung out over the weekend.
We also have to keep in mind that we’re not all coming from the same place. Some of us work in the private sector, some of us have a background in academia, some work on social justice issues for a living. While the race, identity, and gender framework of the event may have fallen short of some’s expectations, we all need to meet each other where we are in order to progress together, otherwise we run the risk of appearing elitist and alienating because we don’t fulfill each other’s definitions of what a “good progressive” looks like.
And I do have to admit my hopes for the event were overly ambitious – that we might emerge with a loosely agreed upon set of goals or coordinated strategy, either to build our own online power or find a way to link up as a online community to an social/policy issue – as other progressive bloggers and bloggers of color, such as Pro-Migrant Blog Squad and Netroots, have done. Or that we might discuss how to diversify the online community and cultivate more varied voices in terms of ethnicity, class, age, education, etc. But I realize a pre-requisite to all this is to just get in the same room to educate ourselves about each others’ presence and perspectives. This was, after all, a large panel/social gathering, not an advocacy work group. Perhaps the next step will be figuring out if we (or who among us) even want to work together and what agenda we may want to push forward.
And I’m with AZN here on changing the name BANANA…I wanted to joke during the event that “yellow on the outide and white/off-white on the inside” might be more appropriate for me, being half white (BA-DUM-CH!). But while I understand the term’s interpretation by the organizers, I can’t separate it from the meaning many of us have grown up with — with “banana” used as a derogatory term — like oreo or coconut — to challenge or invalidate our “authenticity” as Asian Americans, as well as reinforcing the fucked up notion that all of us want to/should aspire to be white.
Bottom line is, I commend Lac and Steve for having the initiative, vision, and sheer sweat to pull this together. BCB was honored to be invited, and the value of face time with other folks outweighed all the snafus that it’s fair to say would be expected from such a massive inaugural undertaking. I’m excited about what the next one will look like and who it will draw, and I’ll be priviliged to say I was there at the beginning.