with Vickie Nam, Editor of Yell-Oh
Girls! : Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing
Up Asian American
Q: We are particularly interested in what
spark ignited you into action to write this book. Very few people
act-on and finish such ideas. What fuels your creativity and your
confidence to see the work through to the end? Do you feel some
measure of success? Do you have advice to give to others about how
to find their inner voice and follow-through on their ideas.
A: I feel like so much of my success was serendipitous. I
was fortunate to galvanize a group of 68 girl contributors out of
over 600 people who submitted stories, poems, and essays for review.
I had two fantastic mentors who made themselves available if I had
questions during the planning, editing, writing processes. And friends
who were well-connected in all different areas of publishing and
grass-roots organizing. I had to be self-disciplined and strong
if I wanted to finish this project, and my inner conviction to get
YELL-Oh Girls! out there was more than enough to carry me through.
advice to other girls? I have relied on several others to give me
support and encouragement. Finding mentors is such an important
step toward discovering and pursuing your personal and professional
Writing is also a powerful means of self-expression and making sense
of confusion and despair. It's also a wonderful way of articulating
successes and triumphs. I always tell girls that their voices matter--
and that they should look for ways of connecting and communicating
with people in their lives. Asking introspective questions is a
courageous act and the first step toward finding one's voice.
Q: Can you talk about the transition from
being a consumer of pop culture to a creator of pop culture?
A: Some "experts" and psychologists claim that teens are
destroyed by negative images of popular culture. I disagree. I have
witnessed the contrary. Teens are active consumers and critics of
pop culture. When I think about my younger years, I think the dearth
of resources made it extremely difficult for me to engage interactively
with the media. Imagining the world without the World Wide Web is
impossible for today's young techno-wizards. But my first identity-related
epiphany happened when I wrote my first letter to the editor of
a popular teen magazine to protest their (mis)representation of
Asian American culture. They drew "Oriental" eyes on a white model
and dressed her in "far eastern" clothing. The fashion feature was
called "Eastern Spice" or something along those lines. It objectified
the culture, and illuminated the ways in which the media reinforced
inaccurate messages and representations of Asian cultures and peoples.
Based on my life experience, I strongly believe that today's teens
are particularly savvy, astute consumers and producers of pop culture.
Q: Do you think of yourself as a voice for the 1.5 million Asian
youth growing up in America today? Do you think there is responsibility
in being such a voice?
A: I think of myself as a voice. One voice in the midst of
the 1.5 million Asian American youth growing up in America today.
It's taken me a long time to figure out what it means to claim my
voice, my ideas, my experiences -- these experiences, which don't
reflect any essentialist notions of growing up Asian American and
female in the US. I think for sure there are certain responsibilities
I have been given in the role as editor of YELL-Oh Girls! And I've
crafted my own personal mission in the process, which is to listen
to other Asian American girls who are confronting obstacles in their
own lives, and to encourage them to speak out and be heard.
Back to Start of Interview
the Exclusive AllHip Interview of
Editor Vickie Nam where she talks about her experiences
as a journalist, about editing the book, experiences growing up
Asian in America, her thoughts on Pop Culture, Mentors and on finding
her voice and personal mission.
Story About the Book
Yell-Oh Girls! Editor Vicki Nam Discusses the genesis
of the book.
Read Excepts from
the Book Yell-Oh Girls!
Alaina Wang Excerpt: "China Doll"