Eddie Huang caps an AAJA committed to telling our Asian American stories
Eddie Huang said he’s currently working on a novel now. But when he first
started writing a few years back and his literary ambitions were high, book
publishers wanted a cook book, not a memoir.
He ultimately wrote the groundbreaking book, “Fresh off the Boat.”
It’s the good cheese compared to the TV show, which is more like Cheez Whiz.
Of course, you tread lightly in either event if you’re lactose intolerant.
Me, I like both–his books and, slightly less, the sitcom–but for different
reasons. The sitcom is a great vehicle for Randall Park and Constance Wu.
But as I’ve said
the beginning, it’s still Eddie homogenized and sanitized for your protection.
I prefer the more dangerous Eddie on his Vice
TV reality series.
So it was a treat to see an even more organic Huang draped in a sultry weather
caftan, holding forth at the Asian American Journalists Association convention
this weekend in Philadelphia.
It was the big awards banquet ,and Eddie was interviewed by NPR’s Kat Chow.
Eddie didn’t disappoint.
He was asked about living his life so publicly.
“It’s tough sometimes,” he said. “But I made a conscious decision in 2009 to do
this, because I said so many of us are taught to be invisible in this world, in
this nation, to put our head down, be model minorities, be career focused, be
upwardly mobile. And I said, you know what, I will give my story. I will reveal
my pain, my struggle, my wins and losses…I would give that up if that means that
it would make people more interested in Asian America and our stories.”
Just one of the gems from Eddie. There are many, including his takedown of
Madame Tiger Mom, Amy Chua; violence in society and his interest in boxing;
fiction and memoir; unity and common ground with other communities, especially
the African American community; an Asian American’s connection to the homeland;
and what Eddie would have for a last meal and with whom would he have it with.
Eddie’s move to fiction is no surprise either. Some people say there’s more
truth in fiction, though fact-oriented journalists go apoplectic at the notion
of anything made-up or fabricated.
But even in a fact-based world, there is a way to tell stories that are real and
authentic and journalistic, and much closer to Eddie than not.
(photo by Sylvan Solloway)
At this AAJA convention, it was the first year of what I hope will be an annual
thing, a Moth-like AAJA Story Slam on
Asian America. I was privileged to be a finalist and share the stage with five
journalists who told their truths in very peronal and moving ways. It was just
one person, live before an audience speaking from the heart, digital technology
be damned. No props, Powerpoint, CGI, sound effects, video enhancers, or info
boxes (although we probably could have had better lighting).
It spoke to how all you need is one person with an Asian American story to tell.
Eddie’s banquet interview made it all a nice capper to this convention.
I’ve gone to more than 20 of these now. This year in Philly, AAJA, with its new
logo and reinvigorated leadership as the industry limps along, seems to be going
in a good direction.
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.