Friday, October 13, 2006

What is Asian American Village?

What is Asian American Village? Why an Asian American Village blog?

Asian American Village is the long-time online community site created by and for Asian and Pacific Islander Americans by the New Orleans-based multicultural publisher, IMDiversity, Inc. It has been published without interruption since 1997, although like most commercial web survivors from those ancient days, it has undergone radical changes so that today's Asian American Village is barely recognizable from its earliest incarnation, little more than a page of random bookmarks to some APIA-related press releases and articles on outside newswires (original content department began developing with the hiring of Asian American editors in 1998).

The site is and has always been free, supported by IMDiversity's advertising revenues, which are based almost exclusively on diversity-oriented recruitment advertising through its online job banks and its multicultural paper publications.

Throughout the years, Asian American Village has published in-community, in-culture feature articles, columns, illustrations, multimedia features, opinions, and information by innumerable, talented and dedicated contributors representing all walks of life -- lawyers, political and social activists, Ethnic Studies scholars, multicultural marketnig experts, career advisors, elected and government officials, business leaders, medical professionals, poets and artists, students and more.

A few of our contributors were regular, paid editors or writers, but many more were just dedicated members of our diverse communities with an interest in and something important to say. We're proud that so many folks who found an early online home at the Village have since gone on to make important contributions and publish their first books in other media. Just some of the exceptional professionals who went on to publish their first notable books (some of which built upon work and ideas in their AAV columns) include Angela Oh, Helen Zia, Frank Wu, Yayoi Winfrey and Chandra Prasad.

Other long-time accomplished authors who have contributed include some of the pioneers of the formal Asian American literature field, including Shawn Wong, David Mura, Meena Alexander, Mitsuye Yamada, Amy Ling, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Elaine Kim, and many more. In terms of other media, AAV has always been interested in exploring non-literary expression by Asian Pacific Americans, especially those in early stages of their careers: For nearly a decade, Asian American Village was the defacto online home of the famed Secret Asian Man comic strip by "Village Artist in Residence" Tak Toyoshima, even back in the earliest days when it it was a rough, black-and-white on xeroxed paper strip with a simple presentation style but a lot to say about the state of Asian America. The Village was a supportive distributor of early all-APA media initiatives such as the now-defunct Karaoke Nights web series, a before-its-time streaming series by the HotPopTV collective that provided performance opportunities for young actors such as Karin Anna Cheung and Roger Phan, who went on to star in Better Luck Tomorrow.

For the duration, the Village's primary caretakers have been Stewart David Ikeda, a Japanese American author, diversity consultant, and former Asian American Studies professor, and Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, popular family, lifestyles and culture columnist, who today serves as the Village's acting editor while keeping up with a busy writing and lecturing schedule, and her role as marketing director for a business chain in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

We'll introduce more Villagers in coming entries as our new team blog develops.