If you are first-generation Asian American (like this writer) you may at once wince at the word “banana.” To those unaware, the name of the tropical fruit doubles as a slang for people who are allegedly “white on the inside and yellow on the outside.” The term can be borderline offensive; it implies a limited view of classes of people, and more unfortunately, may impose negative pressure on an individual’s self identity.
Knowing precisely this, friends and creative duo Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho — who are both first-generation Asian Americans — decided to found “Banana,” a new magazine “dedicated to contemporary Asian culture.” The New York-based bi-annual title seeks to turn the misappropriated word into something celebratory by bringing together creative Asian talent from around the world to voice themselves.
Issue 001 includes a myriad of features by contributors like photographer William Yan and stylist Rachael Wang alongside illustrated pictorials and mouth-watering food recipes (most notably ones turning instant noodle into gourmet meals). The Singapore-born Peir Wu also gets a 12-page spread with an interview and beautiful photography. With such a diverse range of content from a variety of individuals, “Banana” truly shows that no one Asian American experience is the same. We think they’re well on their way to redefining what it means to be “a banana” and how it may be portrayed in the Western world.
“Banana” magazine issue 001 is currently available at Coming Soon, MoMA PS1 and more.