I have a confession to make: I almost didn’t apply for this position. And even after applying, interviewing, and being offered the role of Editor in Chief, I wasn’t totally sure I wanted it.
Inspiring, I know.
It’s not that I didn’t want to take a leadership role. It wasn’t even that I was unwilling to volunteer my time and energy.
I hesitated because I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to lead an Asian American publication. (Spoiler alert: I do, so keep reading.)
I never set out to be “the Asian American writer.” In fact, for most of my life I didn’t want to be the Asian American anything. Like every other child and adolescent, l just wanted to be normal. Growing up, particularly in the Midwest, I was never unaware of being “the Chinese girl.” Eventually the shame of being othered caught up with me, and I internalized the idea that appealing to white audiences was better than appealing to any other group.
Until 2018, I had never met anyone in media or publishing who looked like me or shared my experiences. Even the world of blogging, where I began my writing career and which is theoretically more accessible, was overwhelmingly white. Some of this whiteness, to be sure, is just a fact of life in the Midwest. But it all led me to believe that I had to fit in with the legion of perky white mommy bloggers in order to monetize my writing. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.
Things started to change last year. I published two essays about my identity and experiences as a Chinese American in a publication focused on the Chinese-speaking world. Working with an editor who truly understood Chinese culture (and the Mandarin language to boot) was life-changing. I also began editing a column for progressive Asian American Christians. Every week I read poems, essays, and flash fiction by Asian Americans from all walks of life. Stewing in this creative literary hot pot, l began to feel acceptance and belonging. And this gave me the courage to be the voice I needed when I was in college and high school.
Only Asian Americans can tell the stories we need to hear. The new executive team including myself, executive editor Kelly Moon, and president Alice Tang, are on a mission to amplify Asian American voices. We plan to bring you new ways to share your stories and build a supportive, inclusive community for Asian American women. We hope you’ll join us!
-Jennifer Duann Fultz (henceforth known as JDF)
Featured Image by Lucas Hoeffel Photography